Americans' adoption of broadband has slowed dramatically this year, and a majority believes that making high-speed Internet access affordable should not be a major government priority, research released Wednesday found.
The study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that two-thirds of Americans currently use broadband at home, a number that's statistically the same as a similar Pew study conducted the same time in 2009. The research firm last year found 63% of Americans were broadband adopters.
The latest findings were mirrored across a range of demographic groups, with the exception of African Americans. Broadband adoption in the latter group stood at 56%, which was up from 46% a year ago. Over the last year, the broadband adoption gap between blacks and whites had been cut nearly in half, Pew said.
The study also found that the majority of Americans did not believe high-speed Internet access to everyone in the U.S. should be a top priority for the federal government. Fully 53% of Americans said affordable broadband access should not be attempted by government or was "not too important" a priority.
People who were not currently online were particularly against government trying to expand broadband access. Of this group, 45% were against government intervention, while just 5% said broadband access should be a top government priority. People under age 30 and African Americans were most likely to favor expanded government efforts, with older American being the most likely to oppose such federal action.
Americans' lack of urgency in spreading broadband access could possibly be explained by the mixed views they had on its importance. The Pew study found that there was not a major issue on which a majority of Americans believed the lack of broadband access was a major disadvantage.
More than half of Americans believed that not having broadband would be no more than a minor disadvantage in job opportunities and career skills, getting health information, accessing government services, keeping up with news, information and community activities, and learning new things to improve and enrich life, the Pew study found. One in five American did not use the Internet and two-thirds of them expressed little interest in the Web.
Half of the non-users said they couldn't find online content relevant to their lives and 90% had no interest in using the Internet in the future, Pew found. Also, only one in five said they knew enough about computers and technology to start using the Internet on their own.
The Pew study follows less than a month after the Federal Communications Commission released a report that found 14 million to 24 million Americans lacked broadband access. The study, according to the FCC, underscored the need to reform the Universal Service Fund that primarily provides service to under-served and non-served rural areas.
In a separate report last month, Akamai Technologies found that U.S. cities fared poorly in broadband speeds compared to many cities in Asia.
-- FCC Reports Millions Lack Broadband Access
-- U.S. Slips In Broadband Speed