August 12, 2010

Broadband Growth Slows; Gov’t Plans ‘Not Too Important’

The growth of broadband service slowed considerably in 2010, and most Americans believe the government should not make the spread of high-speed Internet access a top priority, according the findings of a Pew Internet & American Life Project report released Wednesday.

According to the findings of the study, "broadband adoption slowed dramatically" this year after the industry had enjoyed "several consecutive years of modest but consistent growth."

Pew researchers report that an estimated 66-percent of American adults currently use a high-speed broadband Internet connection from their home--an increase of just three percent from 2009.

"The lack of growth in broadband adoption at the national level was mirrored across a range of demographic groups, with African-Americans being a major exception," the researchers discovered. "Broadband adoption by African-Americans now stands at 56%, up from 46% at a similar point in 2009. That works out to a 22% year-over-year growth rate, well above the national average and by far the highest growth rate of any major demographic group."

Furthermore, despite FCC attempts to increase broadband adoption rates in rural areas and reach the estimated 80 million-plus U.S. citizens who do not currently subscribe to a high-speed Internet service, 53-percent of those polled by Pew say that they do not feel such legislation should be a primary focus of the federal government. Of those, 26-percent believed that the government should not even attempt to oversee broadband expansion, while 27-percent believed it was "not too important" of a priority. Only 11-percent believed that it should be a top priority.

"A debate has arisen about the role of government in stepping in to ensure availability to high-speed Internet access for all Americans," Aaron Smith, author of the Pew Internet Project's report, told John Poirier of Reuters on Wednesday. "The majority think not, and the surprise is that non-users are the least inclined to think government has a role in the spread of broadband."

The survey also found that approximately 21-percent of American adults currently do not use the Internet. Of those individuals, 48-percent believed that online content was not relevant to their lives, and only 20-percent believed that they knew enough about computers to begin surfing online without assistance. Only one out of every 10 non-users expressed interest in using the Internet in the future.


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