A report released by the Pew Center suggests that many Americans are not buying FCC and Obama Administration claims about the importance of broadband to the U.S. economy, as more than half of study participants described the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and other government initiatives for boosting broadband availability as a low priority or non-priority. The study, compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, flies in the face of the Obama Administration’s efforts under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to allocate $7.2 billion in economic stimulus funds for broadband infrastructure projects as well as against recent steps by the FCC to implement the recommendations of the NBP. According to the study, 53% of those surveyed said government programs to expand broadband access were “not too important” or should not be attempted, and most of those reporting the strongest opinions about that issue were over 50 years of age. (In contrast, however, 41% of respondents described federal efforts to promote broadband as an important or top priority.) The report also confirms that 66% of the U.S. adult population uses high-speed Internet connections at home, representing a slight three-point increase over 2009. Among all U.S. population groups, African Americans showed the most significant boost in broadband adoption with uptake rates of 56% as opposed to 46% a year ago. While acknowledging that “a debate has arisen about the role of government in stepping in to ensure availability of high-speed Internet access for all Americans,” Pew Center senior research specialist Aaron Smith commented: “the surprise is that non-users are the least inclined to think government has a role.” A spokeswoman for the FCC added that the report illustrates the need for public education about the importance of broadband and also demonstrates that “there are still too many barriers to broadband adoption in America.”
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Study says broadband deployment not a high priority for many Americans
USA August 20 2010
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