Investigating the Broadband Divide of OECD Countries: A Representative Agent Perspective

Investigating the Broadband Divide of OECD Countries: A Representative Agent Perspective

Xiaoqun Zhang (University of North Texas, Denton, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJTD.2020010103
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This study applied a concept originated from economics, representative agent, to build the connection between the diffusion of innovations theory (DIT) and the technology acceptance model (TAM). A new model was proposed based on this notion. This model lays the foundation for the investigation of the correlations between socioeconomic variables and innovation diffusion variables. The empirical study investigated the relationships between socioeconomic variables and fixed broadband and mobile broadband diffusion variables in the countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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People have huge demands for streaming applications on the Internet, such as videoconferencing, video phone/mail, and digital audio/video delivery, which require high downstream and upstream speeds. For those who have broadband services, these online streaming activities become the necessities of their daily lives. These huge demands create tremendous stimuli and market opportunities for Internet service providers (ISPs), Internet content providers (ICPs), and telecommunication technology manufactures.

Broadband services provide faster speed than low-speed Internet services. Statistics show that much fewer people in the world use broadband than those use low-speed Internet (World Bank Group, 2016). Scholars argued the digital divide of broadband is one of the dimensions of the second level digital divide because broadband provides more potentials and requires more skills for users to utilize the Internet (e.g., Correa, 2010; Hargittai and Walejko, 2008; van Dijk, 2006; Lee, Park, & Hwang, 2015). Compared with the large number of studies on the Internet diffusion and digital divide, there are fewer studies investigating the factors that influence broadband diffusion (Lee, Marcu, & Lee, 2011).

There are multiple platforms through which people can get broadband services. Scholars categorized them into two types: fixed broadband, which is upgraded from dial-up service or connected through cable or fiber (Srinuan, Srinuan & Bohlin, 2012); mobile broadband, which uses wireless networks with the feature of “any place” and “anytime” accessibility (Cheong & Park, 2005). These two types of broadband services have different diffusion patterns in different societies. There are also a few studies that investigated the relationship between these two types of broadband (Srinuan, Srinuan, & Bohlin, 2012).

Furthermore, the diffusion of innovations theory (DIT) and technology acceptance model (TAM) have been used in the study of the diffusion of Internet and other information communication technologies (ICTs). They are the theories at different levels: DIT is a macro-level theory and TAM is a micro-level theory. There is a lack of theoretical connection between these two theories.

The aim of this study is to fill these lacunas in the literature. It applies a concept originated from economics — representative agent — to build the connection between DIT and TAM. A model is proposed to illustrate this connection. The empirical study investigates the relationship between socioeconomic variables and broadband diffusion variables in the countries of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The penetrations and diffusion rates of both fixed broadband and mobile broadband, as well as their differences between these two types of broadband, are investigated.

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