Over half of Americans surveyed don’t value Broadband
I was a little disheartened, to say the least, to learn about the results of a recent Pew Research Center report which showed that more than half of Americans do not think the federal government should place a high priority on expanding broadband access throughout the country. A total of 53 percent of the 2, 250 adults surveyed said it was unimportant.
The report runs counter to the FCC’s effort to expand broadband to 100 million US houlseholds in the next 10 years and the recent allocation of Recovery Act stimulus spending of 7.2 billion dollars. NTIA and RUS are wrapping up the process of doling out those funds to projects. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke have said that the remaining $3.6 billion for 250 additional projects will be dispensed by the end of September, 2010.
Ironically, this report was released days before Congress decided last week to take back $301 million of that broadband stimulus funding. The timing is uncanny.
To compound my concern about the lack of enthusiasm over broadband expansion is the fact that even though non-users of high speed Internet have a more difficult time finding out about job opportunities, gaining new career skills, learning about critical health information and other new opportunities that may enrich their lives than do people who regularly use the Internet, only one in 10 non-users of the Internet intend to go online in the near future, mostly because they do not believe Internet content relevant to their lives.
There was some good news in this survey for a person like me who advocates for minority and women in the tech industry. The study’s findings uncovered a significant spike in the number of African-American broadband users, climbing from 46 percent last year to 56 percent this year, by far the highest growth rate of any demographic group surveyed, Pew said.
Many will agree with me that there are tremendous advantages to having a society of educated and informed citizens able to benefit from the economic opportunities created via broadband.
The survey supports the thought that education about the value of broadband should catapult to the top of the priorities in the National Broadband Plan.
Notwithstanding the lackluster attitude of many toward broadband, I remain hopeful that we are moving in the right direction. I read on another person’s twitter stream a conversation about this issue where one user said Broadband is like Crack, once you get it, you can’t stop!
Not certain this would be the analogy I would use, but I agree that once people are able to be instructed about the benefits of broadband, they will more likely be adopters for life!