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U.S. broadband coverage (click to enlarge)  (Source: FCC)
Public sentiment is that its best to leave 80 million Americans unconnected to "high speed" broadband

While it's hard to put an exact number on how many Americans have no internet coverage, there are still some regions of the country in which less than 5 percent of the population has access to the internet.  Depending on how you define "high speed", over 80 million Americans, or about a quarter of the population, have no access to the high speed broadband that the modern web relies on so heavily.

Interestingly, a public poll from the Pew Institute indicates that the majority of Americans aren't very concerned with pushing better coverage for these individuals.  The phone survey (which would only be conducted via landline phones) asked 2,252 adults (aged 18 and older) whether expanding affordable broadband should be a top priority for the government and 53 percent of those polled responded "No".

In total, 26 percent said the government should play no part in pushing out high-speed internet; 27 percent indicated they didn't care if it did, but that it was "not too important"; 30 percent said it was important, and 11 percent said it should be a 
top priority. 

The poll, which can be found here, also offered other interesting results -- for example, growth in internet use among African Americans is outpacing that of white Americans.

Aaron Smith, author of the Pew Internet Project's report, comments, "A debate has arisen about the role of government in stepping in to ensure availability to high-speed Internet access for all Americans.  The majority think not, and the surprise is that non-users are the least inclined to think government has a role in the spread of broadband."

The Federal Communications Commission -- led by appointees of U.S. President Barack Obama -- has made it clear that it thinks that broadband access 
should be a top priority.  It's in the process of deploying a scheme to offer high-speed 100 Mbps internet to 100M U.S. homes and to extend cable coverage to areas that currently cost to much to deploy to (according to the telecommunication companies).

If the recent poll is any indication, the FCC's plan may prove unpopular. 

The debate over internet coverage isn't just a U.S. one, though.  Internationally, the level of coverage, freedom of information, and net neutrality are hotly debated issues.  Finland recently propelled the debate to the forefront when it legislated broadband internet as an essential human right.

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Phone surveys - Landlines only!
By SergeC on 8/12/2010 12:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
You have to remember that any phone survey conducted is using only landlines. This skews polls to varying degrees, and I would think anything involving technology is by far the worst.

By metaltoiletry on 8/12/2010 12:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know anyone who actually takes surveys over the phone. Anytime someone asks me to take a survey, I immediately hang up, and that's if I decide the caller ID name is worth answering.

RE: Phone surveys - Landlines only!
By eskimospy on 8/12/2010 1:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Incorrect. If you read the link to the poll they specifically state:
The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older, including 744 reached on a cell phone.

RE: Phone surveys - Landlines only!
By Silverel on 8/12/2010 1:24:44 PM , Rating: 3
I think his point is still valid.

66% of people contacted were on landlines. 33% were on cellphones.

Is this the kind of ratio for phone use that you find typical among the people you know? Speaking for myself, at least 90% of the people I know use a cellphone as their primary point of contact. Even if it isn't skewed 100% because they included some cellphones users, it certainly doesn't reflect the majority of the population. As such it does skew the study severely to the side of less technologically inclined than the average american.

By eskimospy on 8/12/2010 1:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not really how it goes though, 60% of Americans have both a cell phone and a land line.

Currently in America approximately 25% of households are cell phone only:

For cell phone primary people we can check the CDC's numbers:

Adjusting upward a bit for trends in the last 2 years, it's more like about 30% of households get either all or most of their calls on the cell phone, despite having a land line as well.

So no, it would appear that this study's methodology fits in very nicely with the breakdown of US society as a whole. It's most likely that you are younger than the average American and likely live in a more developed area than the average. Just about everyone I know uses their cell phone exclusively as well, but then again about 90% of the people I know have at least a 4 year degree when the percentage of the US population that has them is a bit over 25%.

Ie: our associations are probably not representative samples. This study however, appears to be.

RE: Phone surveys - Landlines only!
By bupkus on 8/12/2010 1:46:52 PM , Rating: 2
As such it does skew the study severely to the side of less technologically inclined than the average american.
All I can say to that is
I wonder...
Perhaps the survey should have included the question:
"Do you use an iPhone or a cell phone with the Android OS?"
Also, "did you buy your phone at Walgreens? and did you buy it for the bigger GBs?"
Lol... I think I can quite my anti-depressants now.

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