While 66 percent of U.S. adults use a high-speed Internet connection at home, the growth in broadband is slowing, according to Pew. The FCC is stumped over a broadband boost.
If the Federal Communications
Commission requires more firepower for its proposed National Broadband Plan, it
can point to the fact that broadband adoption slowed to a crawl in 2010.
Some 66 percent of American
adults now use a high-speed Internet connection at home, up from 63 percent in
2009, according to the latest results from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American
Pew, which surveyed 2,252
English-speaking citizens by phone in April and May, said
this growth was "dramatically" slower than it has
been in the past.
While broadband growth is
dragging overall, adoption is on the rise among African-Americans, well above the
national average, the researcher also found.
Broadband adoption by
African-Americans is at 56 percent, up from 46 percent for the same period
Calculating the percentages,
that works out to a 22 percent year-over-year growth rate, cutting the
broadband adoption gap between African-Americans and Caucasians in half.
Still, the relative drop of
broadband adoption growth could be used in favor of the FCC's National Broadband Plan
, which aims to bring affordable,
high-speed Internet access to more rural counties in the United States.
While homes in rural areas
certainly need more broadband, the FCC is pushing for broadband
in rural hospitals and medical clinics
whose Internet connections are severely slow.
Then again, a statistic from
the Pew report shows that 53 percent of Americans do not believe the spread of
affordable broadband should be a major government priority.
Pew found that 21 percent of
those surveyed said they do not use the Internet at all. Non-Internet users are
less likely than current users to say the government should prioritize
broadband connections, which makes sense.
If people aren't using the
Internet now, some 15 years after it became popular, they likely don't consider
it an important tool. And if they don't find it useful, the logic follows, why
would they want the government to spend money and resources boosting it?
That's a perception that FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski must fight as he tries to push his broadband plan
through. The FCC's own study from July found
that roughly 14 million to 24 million American citizens
still lack access to broadband.
Broadband policies overall
are having a rough summer.
The FCC last week broke off
talks with Internet companies such as Google
and Amazon and broadband carriers such as Verizon and AT&T after the
conversations ceased being productive.
The stoppage was also likely
due to concerns about the network neutrality proposal
from Google and Verizon, which
calls for tiered traffic across wireline networks but not regulation for
This plan has divided Web
companies such as Facebook, which don't like the discrimination between
wireline and wireless networks, and carriers such as AT&T, which like the