Broadband: If you build it, will they pay for it?

If high-speed Internet service were available to everyone, would people pay for it? According to a report released earlier this week by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, about one-third of Americans not currently using broadband would not get on board if they had the chance, due to the cost.

Based upon two surveys of 4,254 people last year, the report finds expense, access to computers, and the difficulty of using the technology as barriers to widespread broadband use. A focus on availability and price "will only get you part of the way there" said John Horrigan, author of the report.

Currently, about 57 percent of the nation uses broadband services, while 91 percent of homes have access. Trying to solve the "digital divide" may involve more than just plugging in the fiber and standing back to watch the results.

Public interest groups are pushing specific proposals to reduce prices for users and create programs for training and access. Dial-up Internet access users want to pay the same or less - around $34.50 a month on average - for high speed broadband.

Non-profit group One Economy believes the sweet spot for widespread broadband adoption is around $10 per month or less. The group is urging lawmakers to include provisions in the stimulus package to renovate public housing so units within a building have a shared data network to drop monthly access costs per home.

For more:
-  Washington Post piece. Article.

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