ACCESS to a fast Internet connection has become more than a convenience. It’s being enshrined in some countries as a legal right of all citizens. Finland, for example, announced last week that it was moving up its timetable to next year from 2015 for guaranteeing broadband access to all, according to YLE, the Finnish broadcasting company.
Congress is clearly irritated that the United States has not done well in the international broadband Olympics. Other countries have national plans to accelerate the diffusion of broadband; America does not. So Congress has given the Federal Communications Commission a mandate to produce a plan with specific recommendations by next February.
We do know that adoption levels vary by age, income, education and race. Perhaps the F.C.C.’s survey of nonadopters will show that low income is the main barrier to access. In that case, means-tested subsidies could remove that obstacle.
But age is clearly another factor. Survey data supplied by the Pew Internet and American Life Project show that just 30 percent of Americans who are 65 or older use broadband, compared with 77 percent of the 18-to-29 age group. (Which raises an interesting question itself: only 77 percent?)Read More