BBC: Free Broadband Won't Entice All

June 11, 2009

Yesterday the BBC reported that a whopping 43% of adults in Britain who currently do not have Internet access would remain disconnected even if they were given a free PC and broadband connection.

Similarly, the Pew Internet & Life Project reported earlier this year in their own survey that 25% of adults in the U.S. don't use the Internet or email -- and that 1/3 of the adults who are not online would not go online even if the service were free. Also, 9% of all adults are still on a dial-up Internet connection.

Why does this matter? Because both the British and U.S. governments are pushing broadband expansion as "economic stimulus." The BBC article mentions the UK government's desire to get a minimum of 2Mbps connection to every UK home by 2012. T!
he Obama Administration and the FCC has yet to formulate a formal goal for broadband penetration, but the Federal stimulus package (ARRA) contains over $7 billion in funding for broadband expansion.

There is no denying the importance of efficient and affordable broadband connections. But I have concerns when government is taking charge to connect every household. Why? Because a) it is evident not everyone wants it, b) connecting every household in the nation to broadband is extremely expensive and would only happen with great taxpayer subsidization, and c) how will government push technology advancements without choosing winners and losers inside the industry itself?

The United States is a vast nation with millions of people living outside of urban and suburban areas. How does the FCC and the Obama Administration plan on connecting those living in remote!
areas or people who just don't want to take a ride on the!
information superhighway?