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Over Half of Americans Think Broadband is Not a Priority

The Pew Internet & American Life Projects has released its Home Broadband 2010 report, in which it surveyed over 2,200 American adults by phone about broadband Internet access and usage. The report finds that broadband adoption has slowed considerable over the last calendar year, with about two-thirds of Americans saying they have broadband Internet access at home. However, peaking adoption levels may indicate that many Americans who want broadband Internet have it: some 21 percent of respondents do not use the Internet and don’t believe it’s very relevant to their lives, and over half (53 percent) do not believe the U.S. government should make national broadband access a major priority.

“As broadband technologies have been adopted in the majority of American homes, a debate has arisen about the role of government in stepping in to ensure availability to high-speed internet access for all Americans,” said Pew Internet senior research specialist and report author Aaron Smith, in a statement. “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 report finds that younger and African-American respondents were more likely to favor expanded government efforts to set up national broadband access. However, among respondents who don’t currently use the Internet, full 45 percent said the government shouldn’t put any effort at all into making broadband affordable to everyone, and just 5 percent said the government should make broadband access a top priority.

The report also finds that the 21 percent of American adults who are not online have little interest in going online: about half (48 percent) don’t find online content relevant to their lives, and six out of ten non-users would need assistant using computer or the Internet. Only about one in ten expressed any interest in starting to use the Internet.

The reports also found that while broadband adoption between 2009 and 2010 was at best modest for most groups—overall 66 percent of Americans had broadband in 2010 compared to 63 percent in 2009—one notable exception was African-Americans, who saw a 22 percent year-on-year growth in broadband adoption: in 2009, 46 percent of African-American respondents reported having home broadband, and in 2010 that figure was 56 percent.

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