Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

Summary: 52% of American's do not see nationwide, high-speed broadband as a priority according to a survey. Had they asked the younger demographics, perhaps the results would have been different.

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As colleague Sam Diaz reports this morning, a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds that over half of US citizens believe that nationwide high-speed broadband is not a priority, and in some cases "efforts to expand broadband should be abandoned". Only 40% said the issue was a top priority.

The thing that grabbed my attention was the demographic details. Different generations will believe different things - and had more focus been divided between older and younger generations, I strongly suspect the figures would be different.

The problem with survey research like this is the sampling data that is used. Respondents were over the age of 18 which makes survey permissions far easier to deal with, yet had they branched out to an even younger demographic by seeking parental permission, the results would have been totally different.

But flip this round again to a different way of thinking. This survey wasn't an election, nor was it a battle for a winning argument. Just because 'only' 40% say that broadband should be rolled out nationwide and at high-speeds to compete with other countries, along with to boost industry and development - it doesn't mean that the 52% against necessarily win. 40% may not be the majority, but it's certainly a significant minority, and I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of this 40% will be in urban environments.

The US is lagging behind in broadband speeds. I know - I've been there. And the United Kingdom isn't that much better, even though at home as I write this I enjoy the delights of 17mbps broadband. But I live in a city and about 200m away from the telephone exchange, while the rest of my family cope with 1.5mbps speeds where they live in north Nottinghamshire in a village in the middle of Sherwood Forest. Literally.

The US government says 100 million Americans do not have broadband. The report author argued that non-users may be reluctant about "a government promoting a technology that they don't use" nor "see the clear benefit to them".

As broadband becomes a 'legal right' in some countries, along with electricity, water and gas supplies, one wouldn't dream of having a limited water supply which only kicks out a pint of water a day. Why should it be the same for broadband?

Just as gas heats our homes in the dead of winter, electricity powers our devices for entertainment, water is our physical human lifeblood; broadband is the lifeblood of industry, communication and business.

Broadband will be a massive investment for the future. To put it crudely, if the older generations who said no to the broadband plans now are listened to, by the time they're dead and the younger generations take the places in industry, they will have to survive on the poor decisions that the older generation made.

While I'm all for democracy, I sincerely hope that the US government acknowledges, but ignores this survey. A nationwide high-speed roll-out of broadband will be nothing but a good thing and will pay for itself in a few years.

Topics: Broadband, Networking, Telcos

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  • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

    When you look at where the US is on the chart it does look bad. Until, you look at where the US is compared to all the other major landmass countries like Canada, Russia, China, India, and so on. Then our coverage looks a little better.

    I would say the big problem with US broadband is the price not the coverage.
    Shmythey
    • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

      @Shmythey Price wise, yes I see your point. But with the US gov. saying that 100 million American's (so just under a third of all US citizens) don't have access to broadband at all, this shows a huge gap to be filled in the economy by allowing those without the ability and opportunity to use the Web as a means to trade, learn and contribute to wider society.
      zwhittaker
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @zwhittaker If people want broadband access, and opportunity to contribute, it is up to them to work for it. Conscripting the rest of society, forcibly extorting their own hard work is fraught with many other perils in the long run.
        nobodynowherezz
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @JeffLS Understandable, and it does mean families who want broadband access have to be able to pay each month for it. However - millions of families are simply unable to get broadband because the infrastructure is NOT there to begin with. Many families can no doubt pay for it, but if the infrastructure isn't there to begin with, then they're stuck.
        zwhittaker
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @zwhittaker In a competitive system, if a business will make money by expanding into an area to gain more customers, then the business will invest in that expansion. There is a symbiotic relationship between the supplier of service and the consumer.

        This will not always be a profitable enterprise, and so, yes, there will be some for whom expansion will not be a viable investment for the service suppliers; at least not until some other advancement comes along to change that balance.

        Alternatively, cooperatives may be formed by those willing to invest, pooling their resources to somehow effect an expansion of service. These may be charity organizations, or possibly CO-OP organizations formed by those most affected.

        We need something that motivates us as people to work to improve our own situations... possibly even to the point of inventing some new advancement which then benefits ourselves, and which can be "sold" to others.

        Governments tend to stifle this sort of advancement in the long run. They tend to concentrate investment into things which are politically expedient for the bureaucrats, but not necessarily those things which are the most beneficial for all.

        It's unproven that we even *can* adequately expand broadband to 100% of the people, and there is definitely no way to measure what the *right* amount of investment is before the cost outweighs the returns. And of course, there will always be those who have a lower bandwidth than others, so it becomes a continual spiral of government extortion to bring the lower ends up even more.

        The idea that we can attain complete equality is a myth. What we should be striving for is removing the government roadblocks that prevent anyone who is motivated enough from working to achieve their potential. And without inequalities there would never be that motivation.
        nobodynowherezz
      • Just ask the parents if they should spoil their kids

        @zwhittaker

        It's such kinda thinking that keeps asking for the spending that cannot be funded that bankrupts the entire western civilization.

        You want broadband? How about paying it off from your own wallet.
        LBiege
  • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

    Ugh! Another so-called "right". What hogwash.<br>Look, true liberty means that we don't support any kind of slavery, including the kind where I am forced to work to pay for someone else's broadband access.<br><br>Just because one of the ends may be deemed "good" does not justify the means of using government power to force others to work for it.

    It shouldn't be a surprise that those who don't have to pay taxes (i.e., those under 18) would be more willing to make others pay for expanded broadband access. Wait until they've worked for a decade, and have had to deal with having 40%+ of their hard work embezzled by the governement for "helping" others.
    nobodynowherezz
    • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

      @JeffLS Hmm... you see the problem here is that helping others also means helping yourself. It's just about being on the other end of it.<br><br>I pay my taxes, around 19-23% of my total income per year which goes towards all kinds of things for society. Healthcare (NHS), defence, the welfare state and education etc. But in return, if I end up seriously ill, unemployed and in need of benefits, my fellow citizens will assist me in helping me recover. Taxation like this works <b>both ways</b>.<br><br>In the UK we had the 50p broadband tax, where every month we'd have an automatic 50p added to our phone bill to pay for nationwide 2mbps broadband for everyone. That's 50p x 12 months = ?6 a year, around $10. To me that's a bargain to help others, and indeed myself if I choose to move to a rural location to get them broadband access.<br><br>To say that we as citizens pay just over 65p a YEAR to support the Royal family, for example (to add dimension to my argument), and in return we get tourists and thus the wider boom to the economy, diplomatic relations, sovereign morale and trade agreements - it's a very little price to pay for the great deal of good we get from it.<br><br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
      zwhittaker
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @zwhittaker I have no problem with willingly helping others, and yes, that in the long run can also help yourself. I have a problem with concentrating all that power in a bureaucratic process, to be spent on things I do not believe in, and forcing me to work for those ills. <br><br>People are free to invest or contribute to whatever charity they feel is worthwhile. However, the more you forcibly take from them "for the general good", the less they have to contribute personally. This is a diabolical evil. There's no human being in this world who really knows all that much more, or knows "what's best" for the rest. That is a trap for the lazy and complacent. And by taking from people against their will, you absolve them of being more responsible, and you disconnect them from being involved in the issues on a personal level.<br><br>I believe that the value of liberty and free will is being marginalized far too much "for the general good" which, in the long run, will hurt us much more than the value gained from some "perceived good".<br><br>Now, of course, I'm speaking from the perspective of a U.S. citizen, and I recognize that people elsewhere have different systems of society. However, here our society was formed under the recognition that the *people* derive liberty from a power outside of government grant; and I loathe all of the ways that we have been complacent in allowing our government to subjugate us "for the general good."
        nobodynowherezz
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @zwhittaker

        I think the biggest problem with the government paying to expand broadband is that they do not monitor the funds that they already pay out. They pay Verizon and Comcast millions of dollars to expand, so what do those companies do? They expand a little then use the rest of the money to put little ISPs out of business, and it is usually the the little ISPs that reach the rural areas in the first place.

        We pay tons of taxes so Comcast and Verizon and a couple others have an easy bottom line, squashing any competition, and I should know I help my brother with his small ISP which offers wireless broadband, and anywhere they can get a foot hold Comcast runs in and offers free internet for 6 mounths to get people switch (of course they will jack the rates later), and this all funded by the government "helping rural people get broadband"

        Rural areas are the only places small ISPs have left, and the Government is paying to kill us.
        Shmythey
      • Bad comparison

        @zwhittaker

        The UK is tiny.

        America is magnitudes larger.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @JeffLS<br><br><i>I believe that the value of liberty and free will is being marginalized far too much "for the general good" which, in the long run, will hurt us much more than the value gained from some "perceived good".</i><br><br>What we are talking about when we talk about broadband is infrastructure. Our country has a long history of government-sponsored infrastructure project that have created "good" that by no stretch can be characterized as "perceived."<br><br>How was liberty and free will marginalized by the construction of the federal dam system? Or the national highway system? How will liberty and free will be marginalized by a federal broadband system? You need to support your assertions.<br><br>Sure, government makes bad laws, but it makes good things, like the Apollo rocket, the Hoover Dam and I-95. A broadband infrastructure would be one of those things. <br><br>BTW, Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution empowers Congress to build post offices and post roads, the state of the art in communications at the time. From what I know, the intent was to facilitate the delivery of news and information, not personal mail. Trust the Framers on this: government has a role in ensuring that people have access to news and information.<br><br>If the Framers thought so highly of the delivery of news and information to include it in the enumerated powers, I don't see how we could go wrong using the government to build a modern "post road." It was the original intent.<br><br><br><br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
        none none
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @none none<br><br>You're talking about a time when there was essentially no business model which would allow delivery of news and information to post offices in an affordable way.<br><br>And mail delivery did not, at that time, include home delivery, but only to the post offices. Also note that the government had to enforce a strict monopoly on "first class" mail in order to maintain it's position - an artificial position that prevented us from moving forward in postal communications. FedEX and UPS have done much better than the USPS in delivery service in many ways, though somehow the USPS still maintains a monopoly on first class mail. Imho, this actually stagnated our advancement in service delivery - though today, with electronic communications, that is largely a moot point.<br><br>Fortunately for us, business models have already allowed for electronic communications "post offices" and "post roads" to be built efficiently, and thus the government has no need to step in. They've already built the infrastructure, and there are many free hot spots (post offices) that people can go to for service.<br><br>Government intervention slows innovation much more often than it helps. Government-run services may at times be on the forefront of innovation, but over time they tend to stagnate and resist improvement. And in the end, I sincerely doubt that the cost of the government intervention is worth the value in the long run; this is especially true when considering that they nearly always include some intrusion on our personal liberties in order to provide their services.
        nobodynowherezz
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @JeffLS

        [i]You're talking about a time when there was essentially no business model which would allow delivery of news and information to post offices in an affordable way.[/i]

        What you're saying is, now that times have changed we don't need the Framers' wisdom. We can say, well that may have made sense at the founding but it doesn't make sense now. How far down that road are you prepared to go? I can think of lots of liberals who would love to make that same argument.


        [i]Fortunately for us, business models have already allowed for electronic communications "post offices" and "post roads" to be built efficiently, and thus the government has no need to step in.[/i]


        The Constitution also empowers Congress to raise armies. It could be argued that at the time there was no business model to provide military services but certainly they exits today. See Blackwater. By your logic the government no longer has a need to step into the military business if armies can be provided commercially.

        In my opinion the Framers didn't include those things in the enumerated powers for lack of a business model to provide them. The Framers empowered the Congress to do the things they thought were necessary to form and preserve a free civil society. I'm sticking with them.



        :)
        none none
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @none none
        Actually, it is my argument that is relying on the wisdom of the framers, and it is your side of the argument which is attempting to misconstrue their words to achieve your ends.

        First of all, the framers insisted that any power granted to the government, *by the people*, must be written into the constitution. If it's not written there, then they do not have that power. My argument is that the constitution says nothing about any other infrastructure, and it is unconstitutional for the government to assume that power without a constitutional amendment. If it is something that cannot be provided any other way than granting the power to government, then it warrants a constitutional amendment. Lacking this amendment, it is unconstitutional (by definition). Any argument which tries to circumvent that approach is the argument which is ignoring "the Framer's wisdom."

        Now, of course, we're talking about the federal government, and individual states were given much more freedom with which to experiment with different methods. However, even there, states are supposed to be controlled by their own constitutions.

        But in any case, the point of my statement to which you responded was that they had a need *at that time* to provide a communication infrastructure because it didn't exist at that time, and there was not enough critical mass of business investment to provide for it. But please note how they implemented it - it was definitely not done in a way that would support your position with respect to extending broadband access through government power.

        And the framers only gave the congress the power to do that which is constitutionally supported. The mere fact that some congresses (and presidents) since then have abused their powers does not prove your opinion that they actually do have that power constitutionally.

        Your knowledge of the constitution is severely lacking in both the meaning of the content, as well as the historical significance; which unfortunately skews how you think it applies to more recent issues.
        nobodynowherezz
  • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

    IMO if poll respondents had a clear understanding of the benefits of universal broadband, the response would have been different. People just think of more government spending, higher taxes, higher deficit, and they say no. But if you consider it as a productivity tool, and look at the benefits and savings in other areas, they'd think differently. For example, think about pushing a button on your remote control to watch a streaming movie from Netflix. Compare that to the cost in fuel and time for going to the video store, then back again to return the movie. There are all kinds of more significant benefits too - education, enabling rural residents to work from home, better access to health information and medical care, and all the smaller ones people take for granted, such as online banking. And once that broadband is rolled out, consumers will be paying a monthly fee for it. It's not like taxpayers are being asked to provide broadband as an entitlement.
    1DaveN
    • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

      @DaveN_MVP I beg to differ. I have a very good understanding of those ideas, and much more in fact.

      First of all, it is a euphemism to think of it as "government spending." The government has no good or service for sale, but instead siphons off of the hard work of the people.

      Secondly, if it is more productive for these people to have broadband access, then let those who benefit the most invest in their own future. And there are time-honored organizations which exist to fill the gaps; things like charities and cooperatives.

      Then there's the understanding that in order to support the "government spending," one would have to believe that the "government" is some altruistic, all-knowing power which has our best interests at heart.... something which history has proven is horribly misguided. Concentrating too much power encourages corruption and abuse.

      And finally, if someone believes in the inherent benefits of natural selection, they should be less likely to advocate for government intervention; because such intervention tends to stifle advancement in the long run.
      nobodynowherezz
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @JeffLS

        I agree that the government has done a less than exemplary job in many areas in which they've tried to manage this type of thing. However, the communications carriers have proven themselves to be little more than crooks. They'd like nothing better than to take money directly from your pockets to theirs, and skip all this foolishness about providing communications. They're a caricature of the free enterprise system.

        We have a longstanding tradition of charging telephone customers in high density areas to subsidize rural communications. You probably see that on your monthly bill, as I do. IMO what needs to happen is a better allocation of those funds toward making broadband more universally available - we don't really have the Mayberry phone co any more where the operator puts you through to Aunt Bea, so let's rethink that program into a way to make broadband available to everyone - if we have to subsidize cable instead of telcos, that's fine, but let's stop wasting that money on get rich quick schemes for monopoly carriers, and use it to benefit consumers instead of robber barrons.
        1DaveN
      • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

        @DaveN_MVP

        As I've written elsewhere, I have no problem with a business charging whatever price their market will bear, including whatever they can get to help them invest more in the business - which in the long run will include expansion into other areas.

        That is what businesses do: they invest their profits into more business which improves services expansion and/or quality, maintains employees to perform the work, hires more as they expand, etc.

        Businesses don't stick their profits in a mattress (i.e., take them out of the financial system). Instead, they invest in one of many different ways that in the long run provides benefit to us lowly workers.
        nobodynowherezz
  • RE: Nationwide broadband 'not a priority'? Just ask the kids

    This ultimately comes down to an argument about government and taxes, and then usually becomes completely irrational.

    But if you think it's a strange debate in the US - try the current Australian election debate over national broadband!!!

    As much as I dislike the idea of the government owning internet access I like the scheme currently being rolled out - offering fiber to the home with 25mbps to 100Mbps plans, and just announced 1Gbps top speed.

    Meanwhile the opposition is now offering a cheaper broadband rollout with every existing technology offering a minimum peak speed of 12Mbps. This is when most Australians are covered by ADSL2 already.

    They are hoping that wireless technology will form part of this,as although fiber is better, wireless is cheaper and is getting better. The rest is made up of the existing technologies in place including HFC.

    So we have the choice of being improved by a major spend on a network offering to guarantee that it can peak at a slower speed than we already have.

    So basically a $AU6 billion spend to take us back to half way between ADSL and ADSL2.

    This is because they believe that by using existing systems the private providers can still make money out of the existing infrastructure. So they are hedging their bets and trying to keep both sides of the above debate happy.

    The government system already being rolled out is a joint venture with private companies retailing the connections and private enterprise can still make money, but the opposition does not like the existing monopoly provider being threatened.
    richardw66