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Many Americans Refusing High-Speed Internet, Study Shows

There are few things in life you just don't turn down; a second chance at redemption, a Nobel Peace Prize, and, of course, an available high-speed Internet connection. A shocking number of Americans, though, are in fact turning their backs on the Internet, and Congress, rest assured, is concerned.

Following last week's news that Finland had guaranteed universal broadband access to all of its citizens by 2010, the befuddled U.S. Congress ordered the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to get to the bottom of the matter and draft a plan for wider broadband diffusion by February. Although statistics are, on the surface, reassuring (A full 96-percent of American households either subscribe to broadband or have the capability to access it.), one sphinx of a stat lurks in the reeds.

An FCC task force found that 33-percent of the American households equipped to access the Web via broadband have elected not to subscribe, a phenomena leaving the FCC scratching its head. The New York Times reports that lower income levels may act as a barrier to access for many, and that age could contribute, as well. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, only 30-percent of subjects aged 65 or older subscribe to broadband connections, versus (a still low) 77-percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans. The FCC's forthcoming study, though, may reveal that there is a portion of the population that, regardless of age, simply refuses high-speed Internet access.

We'll wait until the study is released in February before we start entertaining any nightmares of anti-technology revolution. But if the report does, in fact, show that the problem is at the level of individual behavior, and not exogenous factors like money or age, then the story becomes murkier. We hope, though, that Congress would be able to craft some sort of social initiative or outreach program to overcome whatever roadblocks -- whether economic, cultural, or otherwise -- that stand between the unconnected and broadband bliss. We realize, though, that we're not Finland, that we have a lot of housecleaning to do in some other rooms, and that the $350 billion we'd need to "Finlandize" wouldn't sit too well with voters or the Congressional Budget Office. For now, at least, we're just glad to see that the Government is doing something concrete, and, hopefully, beneficial. [From: The New York TImes]

Tags: broadband, broadband access, BroadbandAccess, fcc, government, internet, top



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