IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who Cares about Broadband?
(previous | next)

The folks at the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project came out with another installment of their "Home Broadband" survey yesterday. This one, Home Broadband 2010, finds that "adoption of broadband Internet access slowed dramatically over the last year." "Most demographic groups experienced flat-to-modest broadband adoption growth over the last year," it reports, although there was 22% growth in broadband adoption by African-Americans. But the takeaway from the survey that is getting the most attention is the finding that:

By a 53%-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority. Contrary to what some might suspect, non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections.

This has a number of Washington tech policy pundits scratching their heads since it seems to cut against the conventional wisdom. Cecilia Kang of The Washington Post penned a story about this today ("Support for Broadband Loses Speed as Nationwide Growth Slows") and was kind enough to call me for comment about what might be going on here.

I suggested that there might be a number of reasons that respondents downplayed the importance of government actions to spur broadband diffusion, including that: (1) many folks are quite content with the Internet service they get today; (2) others might get their online fix at work or other places and not feel the need for it at home; and (3) some may not care two bits (excuse the pun) about broadband at all. More generally, I noted that, with all the other issues out there to consider, broadband policy just isn't that important to most folks in the larger scheme of things. As I told Kang, "Let's face it, when the average family of four is sitting around the dinner table, to the extent they talk about U.S. politics, broadband is not on the list of topics."

I also noted that many Americans are getting increasingly fed up with the scope of government power and the sort of wasteful spending that is increasingly bankrupting our nation and future generations. More specifically, to the extent people know about them, existing universal service schemes for telephone service are massively inefficient and a prime example of why many Americans don't trust their government to deliver on such grandiose tech-entitlement promises. One government report after another lambastes the waste, fraud, and abuse that runs rampant today our universal service system, and yet, those programs just keep growing and growing, year after year.

That's why I told Kang that extending the same kind of federal aid to broadband providers is not likely to be any more efficient. "My skepticism comes from a poor government track record on tech funding," I told her. And I suspect that many people are equally skeptical for such reasons, and that might be influencing their answers when responding to Pew or other surveys.

Finally, I bet there are some folks out there who believe that, to the extent government should have a role in the "spread of affordable broadband" at all, that role should be focused on (1) clearing the deck of unnecessary regulatory burdens that prevent quicker rollout of privately-funded networks, and (2) limiting any subsidies that may be needed after that to targeted state and local programs for the truly neediest, not grandiose federal tech-pork barrel schemes. Indeed, that's my own position.

Of course, as I've noted here many times before, liberty is a loser these days and the natural progression of history is for Big Government to just grow and grow and grow. So, I am prepared to get in line for my own tech handouts, as I noted in my essay last October, "Broadband as a Human Right (and a short list of other things I am entitled to on your dime)."

posted by Adam Thierer @ 2:14 PM | Broadband , Internet , Universal Service

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly | Email a Comment | Post a Comment(8)


These are interesting statistics that you bring up. I agree with you on at some level, regarding the track record of big government mismanaging the programs that they try to push forward, however I do strongly favor a form of universal broadband that every American can have access to. The fact that the statistics show Americans do not feel that Broadband should be a priority, to me does not denote the lack of need for such services but more a lack of understanding of what the advancing technology of our day requires. I don't think that a segment of our population should be left backwards while select portions of the nation move ahead is fair at all. Sometimes the will of the people is misunderstood when the people are not fully informed as to what the ramifications of their current positions really are.

I am certain that may individuals 1863 did not see the need to spend for universal door to door postal service, which in turn provided the push to name streets, organize territories and develop neighborhoods. The same benefits and more are achievable with universal broadband (unfortunately, this may indirectly lead to the shrinking of the Postal Service, but I digress...).

Posted by: Nintendo Wii Console at September 4, 2010 10:43 PM

And I suspect that many people are equally skeptical for such reasons, and that might be influencing their answers when responding to Pew or other surveys.

Posted by: ugg boots baby at November 15, 2010 9:26 PM

I suspect

Posted by: casquette en france at June 28, 2013 9:36 PM

louboutin pas cher femme action the été devraient augmenter de près environnant les 16 fill cent.

Posted by: louboutin pas cher femme at November 28, 2013 12:04 AM

The most important thing is we are in the final. we really were lucky. with the squad we have for next season," he said. Conceded by Paul Jones. 68:43 Foul by Mark McChrystal (Bristol Rovers). and Paul Gerrard, Fernandez, but we remain relaxed and focused on our design and progression. "I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life.

Posted by: nike air max discount at June 9, 2014 7:03 PM

After Washington, she travels later in the week to New York City, where she worked from 1969 to 1971 at the United Nations. Suu Kyi then will go to Kentucky to address the University of Louisville, before traveling to meet with one of America's largest Burmese communities in Fort Wayne, Ind. She also will visit San Francisco and Los Angeles.(CBS News) WALNUT COVE, N.C. - In most schools, getting kids to care about Civil War history is a losing battle, but at London Elementary in Walnut Cove, N.C., they're winning the war - by reliving it.

Posted by: Doudoune Moncler HommeDoudoune Moncler Homme Court at September 15, 2014 1:12 AM

What i don’t realize is actually how you’re no longer actually much more well-liked than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent. You already know thus significantly in terms of this subject, made me individually believe it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women are not fascinated except it’s one thing to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs great. At all times take care of it up!

Posted by: http://www.kicksplus.fr/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=68 at November 29, 2016 1:30 AM

You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart. « What power has law where only money rules. » by Gaius Petronius.

Posted by: Wholesale NFL Jerseys at December 8, 2016 12:46 PM

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation