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Broadband Disconnect

Jeff Baumgartner

2:10 PM -- About 93 million Americans -- about one-third of the country -- don't get broadband at home, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed in a new survey that comes to light less than a month before the Commission presents its National Broadband Plan to Congress.

According to the study, the unsurprising, chief culprit was "affordability," with 36 percent of "non-adopters" claiming that they can't afford broadband or the installation fee, a computer, or are reluctant to do a long-term service contract. The average monthly bill reported by survey respondents was $41.

"Digital Literacy" was next, with 22 percent of those without broadband saying they lack the basic know-how or are concerned with exposing personal info or finding themselves exposed to inappropriate content. The third big barrier was "Relevance," with 19 percent of those not using broadband at home saying the Internet is a big waste of time (hey, they might actually be on to something), there's nothing on the Web that interests them, or they're happy using dial-up to access the Internet.

The FCC based those findings on interviews conducted with 5,005 U.S. adults (along with an "over-sample" of 2,334 non-adopters) between Oct. 19 and Nov. 23, 2009.

In response, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) highlighted how it and its MSO members aim to help fix the affordability gap with its "Adoption Plus" program, which is targeted to middle-school students from low-income families. (See Cable Offers 50% Broadband Discount to School Lunch Bunch.)

The FCC's slated to present the National Broadband Plan to Congress on March 17, a month later than originally expected. (See FCC Delays National Broadband Plan.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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12/5/2012 | 4:42:07 PM
re: Broadband Disconnect
The FCCs own survey echoes what NCTA has been saying all along - it isn't that people without broadband don't have access to it, it is that they can't (or choose not to) pay for it at current rates. Suggests that federal funding could be better used in subsidy programs to enhance affordability of service, NOT in more expensive infrastructure buildouts that will not address the core issue of affordability. There is a federally subsidized free lunch program, why not the same for broadband access?
12/5/2012 | 4:42:05 PM
re: Broadband Disconnect

I try to teach my kids to watch out for when humans create choices which don't represent reality.  For example if I were to say them, "You can ask Santa for either a round square or a married bachelor as this year's Chrismas present," I would hope they would respond, "Dad not only are those things conflicted tautologies you also presented me with a false choice.  What I really want is affordable broadband connected to the real internet, which you didn't bother to include."

The reality in this case is that affordable and broadband come together by upgrading the infrastructure in an appropriate manner.

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