A recent study carried out by the Federal Communications Commission, titled Broadband Adoption and Use in America, claims that 93 million Americans, or 35% of the population, do not use a broadband connection at home. This study involved 5,005 adult respondents, with an over-sample of non-users and a 1.6 percent margin of error overall. The survey claimed that these people do not use the internet for three main reasons: because they cannot afford it, they lack necessary digital skills, or they do not believe the internet is relevant in today’s world. The largest group by over 10 percentage points, making up 36% of respondents, claimed that affordability was their main concern. The survey listed the average monthly broadband bill as $41 a month. The survey also observes that of the four groups of non-users identified (Near Converts, Digital Hopefuls, Digitally Uncomfortable, and Digitally Distant) the two largest groups, Near Converts and Digital Hopefuls, both cite affordability as their primary concern and are both the most likely to use broadband sometime in the future.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski claimed that the survey’s results presented a serious challenge because "In the 21st century, a digital divide is an opportunity divide. 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."
In contrast, Paul Kouroupas at Global Crossing, calculates that “only 1.5% of the people can’t afford broadband” and that “the private sector have done a pretty damn good job of deploying affordable broadband and there is no need for government subsidy programs. It is a consumer success story that needs none of the institutions built for telephony. I think the main obstacle to a broadband future is the unwillingness of our policy makers to let go of the telephony past.”
The FCC is scheduled to present a National Broadband Plan to increase broadband use to Congress on March 17, 2010. You can preview some of its thinking and test your broadband using a government standard test here.