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Summary:

Almost a third of U.S. households don’t subscribe to broadband, and it’s driving the government nuts. According to an report out today 71 percent of Americans are online, and the rest don’t want it or find it too expensive. And yes, 3 percent can’t get it.

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Almost a third of U.S. households at 32 percent don’t subscribe to broadband, and it’s driving the government nuts. According to an updated report out Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Commerce, 71 percent of Americans are online, and the rest just don’t seem that interested either because it’s not relevant to them or it’s too expensive. And yes, about 3 percent can’t get it.

To address the 24 percent who find it unaffordable, the FCC today expanded a program with cable operators called Connect to Compete which offers discounted broadband service to families with a child that receives free lunch under the National School Lunch Program. The program offers families a $10 monthly subscription and a $150 laptop to help defray the costs of getting and staying online. People without kids will have to wait and see if they get a program to help them out.

With the broadband gap growing larger every day as more and more resources shift online — from job applications and government benefits programs — the cost of forgoing Internet access is rising for digital Luddites and the agencies and infrastructure that support them. Yet, 47 percent of the folks forgoing broadband do so because they just don’t find it relevant.

I have no idea what the government can or should do about them. As the quality of remote health monitoring and other medical services advance, even older Americans should see benefits from getting online. I get that not everyone needs Turntable.fm or Facebook, but even cable TV adoption is higher than broadband.

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  1. This isn’t hard to understand… Most broadband is $50/month. Sure, some is $25 with a bundle but if you don’t need that bundle, you’re back at $50 or. That’s a significant expense for some people and if they don’t have a use for it (or don’t feel that they do…) why spend that much?

  2. My parents (in their 70s) are avid computer and internet users.

    My grandmother (in her 90s) is neither. She worked her whole life without ever touching a computer. I can’t see that she needs one. I can see her resisting one. I don’t know of any of her peers in her community that have computers, smartphones or internet access. They have access in their library, but I’ve never seen anyone using the computer. They have friends, books, letters from distant friends and family, telephone and cable television. They are completely connected to the world in ways they are familiar and comfortable with. I see no reason to try to “fix” this.

  3. Getting online is good but with all the legislation being “bought” (WARNING somewhat ridiculous rant to make a point coming)
    by the MPAA and RIAA, and whomever else has a lobbying group, how long will it be until chat rooms are attacked because someone mentioned an Earth Wind and Fire concert next month and are charged with illegal promotion, kicked of the internet for life and branded a pirate?
    Living in Japan I have to say the US “bought and paid for” section of government is going whole hog to support companies that don’t wish to innovate.

    ej

  4. My grandparents (79 and 90) don’t see the need for stuff like Facebook, but they still have cable internet, wifi, and some Macs. They have music on their computers and read online news and shop online, and forward stupid emails. They can’t seem to get around to getting it at their summer home, but they go into town and go online at the library from time to time there. Everyone should at least have that level of basic internet usage, even if they’re not tied to their iPhones like me.

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