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PEW: Broadband Deployment Not High Priority For Majority - Broadcasting & Cable

PEW: Broadband Deployment Not High Priority For Majority

Poll finds adoption has slowed generally, but not among African Americans
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A majority
of Americans don't think that deploying affordable broadband, which is
the FCC's job one at the moment, should be a major government priority,
and barely more than one in ten said it should
be the top priority.

That is according to a just-released report from the PEW Internet and American Life Project.

The report
concluded that broadband Internet access adoption slowed over the past
two years, and that 66% of the public now has a high-speed connection,
which it calls little-changed from the 63% figure
in 2009.

While
adoption was flat across most demos, African Americans showed a 22%
boost in adoption year-to-year. According to the study, while 65% of
whites vs. 46% of African Americans were broadband users
in 2009 (a 19 point gap), the 2010 figures were 67% of whites and 56%
of African Americans, or only an 11 point gap.

That slowing
adoption didn't appear to be a big deal to many. According to the
study, 53% said they "do not believe that the spread of affordable
broadband should be a major government priority." But
somewhat counter-intuitively, non-users were more likely than users to
say that it should be a priority.

In fact, on
none of the reasons the FCC and administration have cited for pushing
broadband adoption and deployment did a majority of Americans say that
the lack of broadband access proved a "major
disadvantage," including jobs (43% said lack of broadband was a "major
disadvantage"), health information (34%), access to government services
(29%), news and information (23%) or connection to their communities
(19%).

But to be fair,
when the numbers for those who think it is a "minor disadvantage" are
factored in, a majority in most of those categories says it is a
disadvantage.

The poll
found that most non-Internet users who have limited exposure to broadband
don't see it as relevant, and would need help to feel comfortable
online.

Today's Pew
report confirms what the FCC found in our broadband survey last year: "There are still too many barriers to broadband adoption in America,"
said Jen Howard, FCC spokesperson. "That's why
the National Broadband Plan lays out a strategy for improving digital
literacy and ensuring that all Americans can take full advantage of the
benefits of broadband. We're more committed than ever to educating
Americans about the ways that broadband can improve
their lives, whether that's helping them build their businesses, access
education tools, enhance their health care, or communicate with their
government and each other."

The survey
is based on data from phone interviews by Princeton Survey Research
Associates International conducted April 29 through May 30 with 2,252 adults 18-plus. The
margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage
points with 95% confidence.

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