The FCC says that due to cost and a lack of digital
literacy, over a third of the country does not have high-speed Internet
access (defined as other than dial-up service) in the home.
And almost one in five Americans says that the Internet is a waste of time,
that it offers nothing of interest, or that they are content with dial-up
That is according to an FCC consumer survey conducted for the National
Broadband Plan, due to Congress March 17.
But the glass-half-full view--or over two-thirds-full actually--is that 78% of
adults are Internet users, broadband or dial-up, home, business or otherwise.
The survey, a random phone survey conducted in October and November, found that
80 million adults (and 13 million kids) do not have high-speed Internet at
More than a third of the non-adopters (28 million adults) said they don't have
broadband because the price of service is too high (15%); they can't afford a
computer; installation costs are too high (10%); or they don't want a long-term
service contract (9%). According to the survey, the average monthly broadband
bill is $41.
Seventeen million survey respondents (22%) said they don't have the
"digital skills" (12%) or are concerned about potential hazards like
inappropriate content or threats to the security of personal information.
For most non-adopters, there were multiple factors for not crossing that
digital bridge. Over half the 80 million non-adopters listed at least three
Non-adopters were divided into four categories: Near Converts (30%); Digital
Hopefuls (22%); Digitally Uncomfortable (20%); and Digitally Distant (28%).
As the name suggests, the category closest to conversion is Near Converts,
which is made up primarily of dial-up Internet users, or ones who use the
Internet away from home. Cost was the leading reason for their lack of
"We need to tackle the challenge of connecting 93 million Americans to our
broadband future," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in announcing the
new study, which is being released at the Brookings Institution Feb. 23.
The survey, overseen by John Horrigan, director of consumer research for the
Omnibus Broadband Initiative, polled 5,005 adults between October 19 and November 23, 2009. The margin of
error is 1.6 percentage points. There was a Spanish-language option for taking
the survey, and a separate sampling of 2,334 non-adopters for which the margin
of error is 2.2%