93 Million Americans Disconnected From Broadband Opportunities

On Tuesday the FCC released its National Broadband Plan Consumer Survey which found that affordability and lack of computer literacy are the main reasons why 93 million Americans are not connected to high-speed Internet in their homes.

The survey results bolstered existing statistics that 80 million adults currently lack high-speed Internet. Most cited affordability, digital literacy, and relevance as the main barriers to adoption.

"In the 21st century, a digital divide is an opportunity divide," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on the announcement of the survey results. "To bolster American competitiveness abroad and create the jobs of the future here at home, we need to make sure that all Americans have the skills and means to fully participate in the digital economy."

The survey found three major barriers to broadband adoption:

  • Affordability: 36 percent of non-adopters, or 28 million adults, said they do not have high-speed Internet because it is too expensive to maintain, they cannot afford a computer, or do not want to enter into a long-term service contract.
  • Digital Literacy: 22 percent of non-adopters, or 17 million adults, indicated they do not have the skills necessary to be comfortable on the Internet, or are concerned about safety online.
  • Relevance: 19 percent of non-adopters, or 15 million adults, said they are not interested in high-speed Internet because they feel it is a waste of time, there is no content of interest to them, or they do not mind the speed limitations of their current dial-up connection.

Many respondents had three or more participation barriers.

The survey however also painted a bright picture for the future of broadband. Over 52 percent of respondents who currently are without broadband access cited cost and comfort level as the two main barriers to adoption. With improved access to lower-cost Internet technology, along with better technology education - particularly for seniors - many Americans would be better positioned for a future online.

On March 17, 2010, the FCC will deliver a National Broadband Plan to Congress that will detail a strategy to ensure universal nationwide access to high-speed Internet.

Broadband Adoption and Use in America (FCC)