Given broad availability and lack of interest among the remaining holdouts, why exactly is nation-wide broadband access a top priority?
While programs like the Connect America Fund have made access to broadband nearly universal in the US, less than three-quarters of Americans actually use it in their homes. A new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 30 percent of respondents didn’t have a broadband connection at home, and 20 percent had no home internet access at all. This wasn’t because it was impossible to get; the White House recently reported that 98 percent of Americans had access to at least basic broadband. Instead, people are declining to sign up because of cost, problems getting online, or a simple lack of interest.
So why are 20 percent of Americans opting out? In 2010, about half of non-users said they just weren’t interested, while 10 percent said it was too expensive and 9 percent said it was too frustrating. Their attitudes aren’t mirrored by the majority of Americans, most of whom said that not being online was an impediment to finding jobs, using government services, and learning new things. But many non-users aren’t likely to get online any time soon. While internet adoption keeps rising, it’s plateaued in recent years, with a sizable gap still offline.