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High-speed Internet connection too costly for many FCC finds

February 23, 2010 | 10:23 am

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 93 million Americans, or nearly one-third of the population, do not have a high-speed Internet connection in their homes.

In an attempt to determine why more Web users aren't using a broadband connection to surf the Web, the FCC surveyed over 5,000 Americans to see what is stopping them from using high-speed Internet services.

The study found that 36% of adults said they lack a broadband connection at home because the monthly fee to connect to the Web is too high. The FCC said that 15% of respondents said they couldn't afford a computer, while 9% said that they didn't want to enter into a long-term service agreement.

The FCC reported that there are also lingering issues with "digital literacy." It found that 22% of those who don't have broadband access said they lack "digital skills." Another 12% said that they have stayed away from broadband access because of their fear of Web "hazards."

Although Facebook users wouldn't agree, 19% of non-broadband adopters said the Internet is "a waste of time."

The FCC's survey is being used as supporting documentation for the organization's National Broadband Plan, which it will present to Congress on March 17. The plan will outline a strategy that will help the U.S. bring affordable broadband to more Americans.

Judging by the results of the FCC's survey, it might not be so easy. Internet service providers will be loath to reduce pricing to accommodate those who want broadband access but can't afford it. And attempting to convert those folks who think Web access is a "waste of time" might be a lost cause.

High-speed Web access for every American sounds great. But making it a reality will likely prove to be extremely difficult.

-- Don Reisinger

Photo: Floxy Gold looks at a computer at the South Los Angeles WorkSource Center where Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a $7.5-million Recovery Act grant that will upgrade and expand 188 computer centers to provide the public with free broadband access to the Internet. Credit: David McNew/Getty Images