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2/3 of Americans Without Broadband Don't Want It 538

Posted by kdawson
from the if-we-build-it-will-they-come dept.
Ant writes in with news that won't be welcomed by the incoming US administration as it tries to expand the availability of broadband Internet service. A recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicates, as noted by Ars Technica, that two-thirds of Americans without broadband don't want it. "...when we look at the overall reasons why Americans don't have broadband, availability isn't the biggest barrier. Neither is price. Those two, combined, only account for one-third of Americans without broadband. Two-thirds simply don't want it. The bigger issue is a lack of perceived value."
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2/3 of Americans Without Broadband Don't Want It

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  • Don't want to pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:35PM (#26577023) Journal

    Of course they want it. They just don't want to pay scary fees for it.

    It's Old Century Ignorance talking. By 2013 this topic won't exist.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:38PM (#26577079) Homepage
      Slashdot readers need broadband so we can get the dupes [slashdot.org]. The rest of the world gives not a damn.
    • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:39PM (#26577099)
      Um, no they don't. My generation "needs" broadband. A lot of older people,
      especially the elderly, have no need or desire for the internet.
      I suspect that when I am in my eighties, I will have
      much less desire to communicate with the world or check the news on a minute by minute basis.
      Just because some of us use the internet on a regular basis, that
      doesn't mean that everyone would be better off for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vertinox (846076)

        ust because some of us use the internet on a regular basis, that doesn't mean that everyone would be better off for it.

        Some of us?

        Have you tried to apply for a job without the internet lately?

        Even my home repair contractor carries around an iPhone.

        Of course if you are retired or have guaranteed income, you probably won't need to worry so much though. Just saying...

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:19PM (#26577919) Journal

          >>>Some of us need broadband? Have you tried to apply for a job without the internet lately?

          You can't apply for a job using 50k dialup? Huh. I guess I'm just using magic then. (Waves hands over the resume - "transmit!")

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sleepy (4551)

            Well then.. when broadband costs the same as dialup.. you should be just fine sticking to your guns and using dialup.

            Due to scales of economy, you might be given a broadband modem tuned down to 50K. But that will be OK with you.

            I'm looking at generic very high speed bandwidth as a general purpose utility. Would be nice to actually CHOOSE between cable companies (video providers), for once. Anyone remember how we were supposed to get cable competition? I do.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by xaxa (988988)

              In the UK (but I expect this applies quite generally) a cheap broadband service can cost less than dial-up services. But, there are pay-per-minute dial-up services. If all you do is check your email every few days then that's quite sufficient, and you might only be paying a couple of pounds a month for the calls.

              (The cheapest unlimited dial-up service is £7.99/month, the cheapest broadband is £9.99 a month. Some of the larger ISPs have cheaper broadband than dial-up, e.g. AOL, Tiscali. Pay-per-m

        • by sorak (246725) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:52PM (#26579453)

          IMO, Computer skills, in general, are becoming what literacy was a century ago. Sure, it is a skill that some don't have, and those that don't often are not constrained by money, or availability of the requisite materials.

          And in some cases, such the case of the elderly, or a factory worker living in a trailer park, somewhere, the skill may not be needed. But those who choose to do without are limiting themselves and their potential.

          As for their children and neighbors, well, they are part of that other 1/3, and the fact that they are outnumbered does not make computer literacy any less useful for them.

          • by Creepy (93888) on Friday January 23, 2009 @05:12PM (#26580895) Journal

            Well said! We should provide a translation for the kids, though, due to the drop in literacy - I'll do my best:

            IMO, l337 5ki11z = literaSy yestrdae, d00d. We haz 5ki11z lam3rs haz no 5ki11z. Lam3rs haz no 'puter, no $, and no stuff.

            Oldies and trash haz no 5ki11z and iz lam3rs. Lam3rs never 1337.

            Kiddies n wifi l33ches R other 1/3 n b33ten by R l33tness.

      • by Manywele (679470) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:46PM (#26577259)
        The older generation doesn't know they want it. My parents (~70 years old) resisted dumping AOL dial-up until they were more or less pushed into getting broadband. Now both of them have discovered all the high bandwidth stuff on the web that they actually like and want to watch like videos on gardening or quilting. They don't use it much to communicate, they're not on facebook or twitter, they use the internet for finding information they want and now really appreciate the bandwidth. With dial-up finding what they wanted was just too painful so the percieved value was very low.
        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:01PM (#26577549) Homepage Journal
          "They don't use it much to communicate, they're not on facebook or twitter..."

          I consider myself moderately young (or young minded) and I steer clear of facebook or other social networking crap. My friends my age have it, but, I'm too concerned about privacy issues, etc to mess with that. I'm still of the mindset I got from the earlier days of the internet...try to stay anonymous as you can within reason. At the very least, don't go posting pics of yourself half nekkid with friends, sucking a skull bong.

          :)

          It could come back to haunt you later for a job interview...especially if it is security related.

          • Re:Don't want to pay (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sancho (17056) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:18PM (#26577897) Homepage

            Do your friends post your pictures on Facebook? Last I checked, the only way to prevent people from explicitly searching for you in pictures was to have an account and disable it.

            Also, with an account, you can untag your pictures.

          • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:35PM (#26578193) Homepage

            At the very least, don't go posting pics of yourself half nekkid with friends, sucking a skull bong.

            I'm a bit dyslexic, but when I read that, at first I thought you wrote, "sucking a bull dong." I thought, wow, no wonder cayenne8 wants some privacy. I wouldn't that showing up during a job interview, either.

          • by ribo-bailey (724061) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:40PM (#26578299) Homepage
            What will your employers think about your pimp-slapping homepage link?
          • by jcnnghm (538570) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:42PM (#26578341)

            It could come back to haunt you later for a job interview...especially if it is security related.

            I think it's going to go the other way once people begin to realize that most people are human and have a life outside of the office. In other words, people will loosen up a bit and realize that having pictures of yourself doing the stuff that everybody else is doing anyway isn't a bad thing, the increased transparency will force standards to relax. Sort of like how Clinton didn't inhale, Bush snorted coke, and Obama smoked pot, yet they were all able to be elected. 50 years ago that likely wouldn't have been the case.

            Perhaps we'll finally lighten up a bit about nudity now that porn, and all sorts of weird stuff at that, is so readily available online and viewed in such massive numbers.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Pichu0102 (916292)

              More likely, increased transparency will make businesses more likely to only hire those with spotless records, given that there are so many people out there, and you likely don't need to hire someone who has an imperfect record when there are already so many applicants.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jcnnghm (538570)

                And it will backfire. The kind of people that you want to hire are those that are generally happy and socially well adjusted, because they're better able to work with others effectively. A facebook profile that shows them regularly socializing with friends would support that.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by MikeBabcock (65886)

              Ironically more people seem to get kicked off Facebook for posting breastfeeding photos [facebook.com] of themselves than for posting lewd sexual photos.

          • Re:Don't want to pay (Score:4, Informative)

            by rgviza (1303161) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:05PM (#26578725)

            Um, mark your profile as private so that only your friends can see it ; )

            You can even set up groups of friends and limit the content they see based on the group they are in.

            If you have incriminating stuff just mark it for the group of superclose friends and the rest will never see it.

            -Viz

        • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:06PM (#26577653) Journal
          This is exactly right and can be pushed even further. About 15 or 20 years ago my mother, who is now 85, didn't have a microwave oven and stated flatly that it was because she didn't need or want one even if we told her we'd buy it for her. So we bought her one anyway. Two weeks after she told us she would never use it, she was using it every day for something or other. Lately she has even expressed regret about not taking a basic computer course a number of years ago; now that she realizes how useful it would have been to keep in touch with friends and family. So yes, if people don't realize what they are missing, they won't miss it. Some times this is good, some times this is bad. This could go either way in this case... maybe we'd be better off if instead of watching a youtube video of a person mountain biking, we go out ourselves and get some exercise and talk to real people in person. ;) Now... back to work!
          • by garett_spencley (193892) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:26PM (#26578025) Journal

            I find the example of your grandmother and the microwave oven a little funny. Only because I grew up using microwaves and over the last year or two, as I've learned to cook, I've gradually stopped using it. I don't think I've used our microwave at all in the past year.

            I admit there's convenience and I don't blame or condemn people for using them. But everything you can do with a microwave you can do better (albeit slower) with traditional methods. The results are soooo much tastier if you put your hot sandwich in the oven, melt your butter in a small sauce pan or defrost your meat slowly in the fridge etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by eth1 (94901)

            I've always thought it was a shame that so many of the older generation aren't computer literate. My grandparents were/are in assisted living facilities with attached nursing homes, so I have plenty of opportunity to see what it's like.

            These kind of people have *tons* of time on their hands, but they usually can't get out and interact with people other than the people living there with them. If they were able to communicate via computer, it would remove a lot of those limitations. (I always thought this wou

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            When I was a kid my maternal grandparents' house had no indoor plumbing. My mom grew up without electricity as well, but the house was wired before I was born.

            I remember my grandfather fought my uncle's installing a bathroom in his house tooth and nail, and a few years after they had a bath he'd use the bathtub, but he still went out and used the outhouse, even in cold weather.

            Now my dad reminds me if his late former father in law when it comes to cell phones and computers. "I lived 77 years without one and

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:54PM (#26578535) Journal

          >>>The older generation doesn't know they want it.

          You (and some others) sound like the TV preacher I recently heard. "Many people don't know they need GAWD in their lives. They don't know it, but they DO need him, because he will make their lives better!" (crowd cheers). "We must give them gawd as soon as possible even if they claim they don't want it. It's for their own good!"

          Replace "gawd" with "broadband" and you have a politician and/or slashdotter.

          (ducks spitball)

          • Re:Don't want to pay (Score:4, Informative)

            by Endo13 (1000782) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:00PM (#26578615)

            Broadband has obvious, quantifiable benefits that are apparent basically as soon as you have it.

            • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:00PM (#26579579)

              Broadband has obvious, quantifiable benefits that are apparent basically as soon as you have it.

              Okay, explain the benefits of broadband for a person who does nothing but email with her computer.

          • Re:Gawd! (Score:3, Funny)

            by TaoPhoenix (980487)

            Nope.

            I am with the people of the theory that the internet became the last piece of proof that YHVH doesn't literally exist in the classical sense.

            Ever notice that if you pray nothing still happens? With Alan Turing and Norbert Wiener on tap to manage His IT, you'd at least get a Prayer Received message in your ear. Log in to view MyMiracles, compare Manger Construction ideas, etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ironica (124657)

            >>>The older generation doesn't know they want it.

            You (and some others) sound like the TV preacher I recently heard. "Many people don't know they need GAWD in their lives. They don't know it, but they DO need him, because he will make their lives better!" (crowd cheers). "We must give them gawd as soon as possible even if they claim they don't want it. It's for their own good!"

            You're failing to see the difference between "make available" and "required to have." In the US, religion is definitely available to everyone who wants it, and our Constitution explicitly protects that availability. Broadband is not available to everyone who wants it, and in part due to that lack of availability, some people who would want it if they had the opportunity believe they do not want it.

            In Communist China, there may be people who *would* want religion if it was available to them, but believe th

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Um, no they don't. My generation "needs" broadband. A lot of older people, especially the elderly, have no need or desire for the internet. "

        Actually...not just 'old' people.

        I have a friend of mine...he works in the somewhat tech industry. He works with computer applications (CRM stuff, Crystal reports, etc). But, when away from work, he is such a luddite. He still has a broadband connection at home (a leftover from some indie work) BUT, he never uses or checks it for email or whatever. If it were not t

    • by vertinox (846076) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:40PM (#26577125)

      Of course they want it. They just don't want to pay scary fees for it.

      Yeah. The key problem with US broad band is the people providing the broadband and not the customers.

      I would almost suspect this kind of report would be used by the providers as an excuse not to roll out to rural areas.

      Of course, these same companies will quash any rural municipality attempt to create their own network.

    • No its not. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shivetya (243324) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:46PM (#26577249) Homepage Journal

      People use the "they are deprived of it" "they deserve it" "its a right" more often than not because they want something themselves.

      It is far easier to decry we don't have enough availability when you reference others - you can assuage your guilt that way.

      Look, relatives of mine live on a farm. They care about the weather and look up current prices on feed and end products they sell. They have no need of anything but dial up and its done at the dark of the night because that is when they are done outside. To them its a tool. The problem with too many people is they can't tell a tool from entertainment anymore... they cannot tell work from addiction

      Honestly I could live just fine without the net and cell phones, I grew up in the age when they weren't being rammed down our throats by everyone who wants to make a buck and that is what this availability is really about - businesses need to get into our wallets and someone decided that this will be the new means of doing so, trouble is we aren't playing along hence we must be ignorant.

      yeah, whatever. I have high speed internet, my relatives do not, we are both happy and I would not change them and they would not change me. No ignorance, just acceptance that other people enjoy their lives just the way they are and aren't missing out on anything

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Silentknyght (1042778)

      Too True. Some anecdotal evidence for you:
      (1) My father refused to switch over to broadband until 2000, despite the pleas of his children. When he switched over, and suddenly didn't have to suffer the painful slowness of 56k, his comment was, said aloud, "Why the hell did I object to this?" (2) My mother-in-law has refused to switch over to broadband until this past year, even though the dial-up internet for her was so slow, cumbersome, and time-consuming, she almost never even used it anyhow. She'd pull

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) * <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:38PM (#26577081) Homepage Journal
    Remember there are still plenty of people in this country who don't own (and don't want to own) a computer or any other type of internet-connected device. They aren't necessarily opposed to computers, they just don't care to own one. I know plenty of people who fit that demographic, and even if you gave them broadband for free they still wouldn't be interested.
  • by LilGuy (150110)

    I know I wanted broadband when I didn't have it. Now I live across town where I have it.

    Those who don't want it probably have no clue what the difference is, or don't have internet anyway and simply don't care about it.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:38PM (#26577091) Homepage Journal

    first, it is sure that their children will want it. leave that aside, in every country governments and corporations are moving most of the services online. even news, media too. there will come a time when broadband internet connectivity will be a necessity for many things. better to make preparations for the day to come than sit back and relax.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      Me: We need to get internet mom!
      Parents: No. What good is it?
      Me: Uhh you can send emails and read news and informational sites online.
      Parents: I don't see it being worth it.

      * fast forward a year *

      Parents: The internet is out call the ISP and ask them how long it'll be down.
      --
      Me: We should get broadband.
      Parents: We don't see any reason for faster internet. This seems perfectly fine to us.

      * fast forward a year *

      Mom: The internet is really slow! What's wrong with it?
      *runs speed test*..... 800kbps.
      Me: It's sti

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:39PM (#26577097) Homepage Journal

    Who doesn't want broadband? Old people, that's who.

    They don't want the Internet. They want to knit and watch the Price is Right. Who are we to condemn them for that?

    Some people on this site make an awful lot of noise about not watching TV. What's wrong with that? It's all about personal choice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cornwallis (1188489) *
      Actually I've got it and am thinking about getting rid of it because it has become as big a time waster as the tube. (And I say this as an IT pro for the past 22 years.) I'm getting more interested in living life than observing life on machines which seems to be the case more and more. For example (and forgive me for saying the next three words but) in my day we aspired to be Guitar Heroes. Now, everysome seems to be content playing the game! Luddite out!
      • Nah, you don't want to get rid of it either. You probably want broadband enabled context info in a private earphone like the bluetooth cell guys use. It just isn't here yet.

        Go observe nature. Then let it warn you of the cliff ahead.

    • Old people cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress just because they don't like the new ideas. We need to cut costs, and doing things over a network is a great way to cut costs.

      Once broadband becomes a requirement for the free hand-out health car the oldsters get, you'll see them demanding it.

      I didn't want the war foisted upon us by lying politicians and the gullible and cowardly older generation, but here it is. Guess what, 'greatest generation', now we want to spend tax money on something that

      • by idontgno (624372) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:33PM (#26578141) Journal

        Guess what, 'greatest generation', now we want to spend tax money on something that is GOOD for the nation.

        Like rampant botnets? These are people who have said, out loud and with conviction, that they wouldn't use broadband if they had it. If you make it some kind of mandatory, they'll use it... but they won't take care of it. To use a /.-mandatory car analogy, make automobiles mandatory to go the the doctor's office, and you'll find unmaintained cars breaking down in the middle of the road all over, because the car hasn't been made that doesn't need tire replacement, oil-and-filter changes, and other periodic maintenance. If the driver can't be convinced they're responsible for that, the rest of us are boned.

        Give every non-enthusiasts any network-connected computing device and you've just multiplied the attack space for worms and trojans by perhaps an order of magnitude. Are you volunteering to be tech support for those folks?

        And, so help me $DIETY, if you Mactards and Linux zealots* start smugging on about how the whole maintenance and vulnerability issue vanishes if you just give Ma and Pa Kettle Macs or Ubuntu boxen, I swear I'll reach through the internet and smack you. Again, I'll say it: the car hasn't been built yet (and never will) that doesn't need periodic maintenace, and the same is even more true of computing boxes. Period. Given a large enough target zone, blackhats will find and exploit vulnerabilities. And Grandpa and Grandma won't know or care. "Educate 'em!", you say? Feh. To quote Calvin: "You can present the material, but you can't make me care".

        I didn't want the war foisted upon us by lying politicians and the gullible and cowardly older generation, but here it is.

        Non-sequitur. Strawman. Absolutely irrelevant. You don't want the war foisted on you, but at least no one is putting a gun in your hand and making you responsible for fighting it. "Mandatory" broadband in the hands of the untrained, unwilling, and uninterested is the functional equivalent.

        But hey, don't let me stand in the way of your emo-angst irrationality. I'm sure the purported GWOT and the necessity of universal broadband are intimately connected somehow in your mind.

        *Full disclosure: I am, after a fashion, a Linux zealot. I'm also a realist. Linux is not the answer to all life's problems. Linux is not Superman. Linux is not invulnerable. Linux is just far less evil than most of the alternatives. And speaking of evil, I am not a Mac enthusiast, because Apple's corporate and IP policies disgust me.

        • by radl33t (900691)
          "Again, I'll say it: the car hasn't been built yet (and never will) that doesn't need periodic maintenace"

          Not true. Vehicles don't need any maintenance for years. Most leased vehicles will satisfy your requirement. Bold use of the word never considering an electric car is absent every thing that gets maintained in a modern car before about 100k miles. Besides, why are you using such a inappropriate analogy? Mechanical wear in no way resembles broadband, computer hardware, or software.

          Broadband connec
    • Seem my post above. Mentioned to you for convenience so you see it in tracking. The knitters are online now too.

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:40PM (#26577123)

    I don't want internet service on my cellphone.
    EVEN IF IT WAS FREE, I wouldn't want it.
    In fact, the only 3 things I want on my cellphone, is voice calling, voice mail, and text services.

    I know some people who even consider that to be too much.

    So if 2/3 of americans don't want broadband service, maybe we should just leave them alone and stop pressuring them to get broadband service?

  • My father... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michrech (468134) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:42PM (#26577169)

    ...was in the "Two-thirds simply don't want it. The bigger issue is a lack of perceived value" camp until he started receiving many rather large pictures and short home movies (usually taken from a digital camera) of his grand kids. He was also attempting to upload pictures he'd taken to the family Gallery (it runs Gallery [menalto.com]), but it took so long to do (he has a 7+ MP camera, so the pictures were rather large). After finally biting the bullet and getting *the cheapest* "broadband" he could find (I think it was 128k down / 64k up), within a couple weeks he had upgraded to a mid-level broadband package (somewhere around 1.5mb down/256(or more) up) and was finding himself doing so much more with it. I personally believe the final straw that made him actually upgrade his package was the ability to see/talk to his middle son (one of my two younger brothers) while he was/is deployed in Iraq (on his third tour now, I believe).

    There are some people that just aren't going to want it, no matter what you show them can be done with it, but I think a large percentage of those 2/3 that "don't perceive the value" simply haven't had anyone explain/show them what value they could be getting.

  • My Uncle living in Iowa has wanted to get broadband for years. He lives on a farm just outside a town with a population of about 300. The town just lost their only gas-station (damaged in a flood and the owners decided it wasn't worth fixing) and I don't believe the town has broadband available either. So, he's stuck with dial-up for probably a while.

    My grandparents in Nebraska live in another small town, they have high speed internet available in their area via WiFi with REALLY big antennas.
  • The bigger issue is a lack of perceived value. 19 percent of dial-up users, for example, say that "nothing" would get them to upgrade, not even lower prices.

    So you can have a worse product that costs more, or a cheaper product that works better. And you want the crap?

    There's something strange going on. Either 19% of dial-up users are morons, or... well, I don't know. What might be a reasonable argument for not wanting better-and-cheaper?

  • Logical. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:44PM (#26577225) Homepage Journal

    I remember back when we had lie 8 channels on TV and that was with Cable. If you had all three networks and PBS what else did you need?
    Then I heard about people in NY that had like 100 channels. A lot of people just don't see why they need broadband.
    Netflix? They watch Movies on TV they don't watch them on their computer.
    Download music? Adults just don't buy that much music. I bought my step dad an MP3 player. It was too hard for him to rip the CDs. He uses the internet to send email. He still uses the weather channel for weather and he has a minor in meteorology. I want internet everywhere and always and super fast.
    I think that it will just take time and devices that are not PC to get everybody on line.

  • Just because your into something i.e. gerbiling doesn't mean the rest of us are. If people don't want a service or product why should it be an issue to anyone but the supplier?
  • The people I know who don't want internet are all older folks who are very set in their ways. They don't want to do anything new and that includes the internet. They don't really know what the internet is and they don't want to know. You could give them free broadband and a free computer and they still wouldn't use it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How is that "not rational?" What if they're happy the way they are? It is more irrational to pretend that you or I know what they "need" in their lives. Maybe we know what we "need" (doubtful, most of the time) but we don't know what they "need."

      If they're happy without technological woes, computer trouble, viruses, spam, facebook, myspace, arguing about Linux vs. Windows vs. Apple, and other easy wastes of time, who is to say they are leading inferior lifestyles or "missing out?"

  • by maynard (3337)

    I now just make do with my iPhone and a fat connection at work. I first canceled Comcast because their prices are simply too high. They were charging me $180/mo for HD television and Internet. To cut out the television would have still been almost $70/mo.

    RCN, a competitor in my town, offered Internet service only for $35/mo, so I tried them. They simply made up stuff to charge me with. No television? Well, you have television service now! Pay up. Call them and have it turned off? Sure ... only to have it tu

  • by Anonymous Coward
    pfft, if the "Pew Internet & American Life Project" knew anything about the Internet it would be called the "Pewpewpew Internet & American Life Project"
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:48PM (#26577299)

    And they don't really want any personal computers, they just don't see what good they are.

    Right after that, 2030 sent an e-mail, which read "rofl no broadband? can u still even watch tv without it in ur time?"

  • Here's the report on broadband [pewinternet.org]. %55 percent are on broadband, and 10% are on dial-up. Also noted:

    Non-internet users represent a large pool of potential broadband users, but many are just not interested in getting online.

    So for many,it's not an disdain for a fast connection, but just a lack of internet in general for the internet.

  • by pikine (771084) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:49PM (#26577333) Journal
    Do you guys seriously think that some Asian country that touts 90% coverage means 90% of residents access the Internet through broadband? Surely, they also have more than 10% old grandparents who don't use computers. Their "coverage" is defined as "if they wanted to, they could get it" as opposed to the actual subscription rate. It's just a different definition of coverage, in terms of which I think the US has a pretty good coverage already (although it could always be cheaper and faster).
  • Bad article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RockMFR (1022315) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:51PM (#26577377)
    The arstechnica article and the Slashdot summary do not make it clear that the 2/3 figure includes people who don't use the Internet at all. For dial-up users, price/availability accounts for about 1/2 of the people who don't have broadband.

    You're always going to have people who don't adopt a new technology. These people shouldn't be used to not improve the technology for the rest of us.
  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexborges (313924) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:52PM (#26577397)

    We will all be, eventually, old people. And we wont want to pay for, nor we will be interested in, that crappy holistic multiversic quantinet our kids will happily plug in their brains.

    I say leave the elders alone and let them buy their paper and sit at the diner and chat amongst friends over a cup of joe.

    The net, contrary to all that idiocy, does not automatically make you or anyone smarter, better or more productive. Hey, Ive seen pretty good arguments -Giovanni Sartori- that point in the other direction for some cases, and what I see being done to language in SMS messages by youngsters makes me want to send them all to linguistic concentration camps.

    Why this strange neurosis on trying to get everyone to facebook their ass?

    I dont really get social networks actually, I think they are the worst to ever happen to privacy and will eventually cost us individual freedom.

    Now youtube is another story. I like that one and their pr0n equivalents (better).

    So there: people that dont want broadband perhaps like real life better and im not sure thats bad at all.

  • With the caveat that the plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data, my own experience with my family has been as follows. Several years ago, my parents lived in a rural-ish community in northern Nevada (Elko, to be exact -- a mining and ranching community of some 30-40 thousand people). Because television reception was pretty good (they got all of the major networks over the air, and in some cases got the same network from two different cities), they didn't bother with cable. Thus, their only internet op
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:55PM (#26577439)

    and what percentage of the other 2/3 simply don't know what they are missing? It's like asking the population of 1930s America if they wanted highways - many probably wouldn't have seen the need for it. Many didn't have one in their area (PA turnpike and a few others around). Eisenhower, as a young officer, took part of a cross country convoy, to assess national roads, around the early 1920s IIRC, and it took them nearly 50 days to get coast to coast, that with seeing the German Autobahn in action up close is what lead him to spearhead the interstate system as President.

    Infrastructure is almost always good and pays off, like the Hoover Dam + others Depression era projects are still serving us well today. But it's really tough for people with little experience with it to imagine the uses for it. They've been confined to stuff like dial-up for so long, that the concept of the internet as a medium for only text emails, sprinkled with a few static pictures and the like is hard to break for good reason.

    • While a lot of people did well with national infrastructure projects of the past, lets remember that some people did get screwed. There is always someone screwed when the government builds something, and that's why some people hate the government. This grievances are not illegitimate and you need to take the effects of them into account.

      For example, let's look at how highways and hoover dam screwed some people.

      First off, highways screwed cities. If you can drive anywhere, you don't need the concentration of goods that a city offers, and more so, you allow people to get to work without having to live near it. Essentially this has turned American cities into corporate islands surrounded by ghettos because nobody wants to live in cities but everyone will take the high paying jobs.

      Secondly, highways screwed local stores. No national brand could exist without highways to truck goods all over the place. Everyone that bitches about the likes of Walmart, McDonalds and every other chain and laments the death of the local foods in the local store need only look at the highway to see why this took place.

      Third, the highways really screwed blacks in America, because usually, in cities, all the overpasses and bridges and what not were all built in black neighborhoods, pretty much destroying the asset base of an already fragile population. New York City is a perfect example of this, and there are many black leaders that curse the name of Moses to this day - and no, not the biblical Moses.

      Hoover dam screwed everyone that had local water, or needed the flow from the river downstream of the dam. You go to all this expense to get a good spot downstream and the government shuts you off. Or you go to all this expense to get your own water supply, and the government goes and doles it out to everyone else on the cheap, making your investment worthless.

      • Let me rebut a few of the things you mentioned:

        First off, highways screwed cities. If you can drive anywhere, you don't need the concentration of goods that a city offers, and more so, you allow people to get to work without having to live near it. Essentially this has turned American cities into corporate islands surrounded by ghettos because nobody wants to live in cities but everyone will take the high paying

        This is not the case in Europe. That's because along with highways, Europe developed their publi

  • by Raven737 (1084619) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:55PM (#26577461)
    most other countries have a higher broadband adoption ratio with better speeds
    and lower prices, so if the majority of the people living in the US without
    broadband don't want cheaper/better performing internet then something must
    be really really wrong.

    I would be guessing the lack of competition, throttling, being treated like dirt
    and then spending a (comparatively) huge amount of money for the privilege
    has probably scared those people off.
  • The internet can be a great research tool - when you filter out the billions of pages of shit out there.

    It can be a great communications tool - when you filter out the trillions of shit messages.

    It a great source for news without having to listen to the overpaid talking heads - after you filter out the millions of lies, half-truths, agendas, and propaganda.

    And the internet a is a great way to suck away valuable time on shit. For example, online message boards. This thread will offer me absolutely nothing t

  • by snarfies (115214) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:59PM (#26577523) Homepage

    My father is in his 60s, and lives on a farm in rural PA. When I was growing up he had zero interest in computers. He didn't even want one until he found out, maybe 5 years ago now, that he could contact his old army buddies on it. At the time, broadband wasn't available in his area, but I set him up with a computer with a modem, and he messed with it and tinkered with it, and, indeed, completely screwed it up a few time, but he did learn how to use it moderately well.

    Maybe 2 years ago they finally get DSL in his area. He didn't want it. Zero interest. He already had his modem and could contact his army buddies, and that was fine. But whenever he needed to download Windows patches it took literally overnight. He had sort of set into using the internet in certain ways, and he was satisfied.

    That was until he stayed with me in the city, where I have Comcast, and he got to use the internet in completely new ways. THEN he wanted, and now uses, DSL. He looks at Youtube. He uses Utorrent. He is glad he made the switch.

    tldr; People don't want to switch because they don't actually know what they are missing.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:07PM (#26577687)
    My parents are European immigrants, my mum was born in 1939, just before the start of the war, my dad in 1941, during the war.

    They both grew up with post-war shortages, and as a result they're naturally frugal. My dad uses the internet for email, forums and light web surfing, all on dial-up. Why? Because it's cheaper.

    Here in Vancouver, dial up is about $10 per month, broadband is about $30 per month. To my dad's thinking, that's an extra $240 per year that he'd rather have in his pocket. If he needs broadband for something like Google earth he just strolls down to the library and surfs for free. He's retired, after all.
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:11PM (#26577765)

    I have broadband (of sorts). My city provides free WiFi. Its good enough for my uses (downloading/uploading large documents and VoIP for long distance). I have a POTS line with the lowest price possible. No long distance (that's what VoIP and/or my cell phone are for). The phone line is for emergencies and as a back-up to the WiFi. I have rabbit ears for my TV sets The digital reception is great and the quality much better than what cable or satellite offers. Besides, I don't need more than a dozen channels.

    Both my cable company (Comcast) and my phone company (Verizon FiOS) offer '3 in one' packages of TV/phone/broadband. But the added value just doesn't compute. The additional broadband speeds would be nice, but I don't need TV with 500 channels and phone with big feature packages. So, I figure the broadband would be economical at a price point of about $25/month. But that's not available from either provider. Worse yet, you can't get FiOS broadband only and keep your basic phone service. Verizon insists on moving its FiOS customers to the unregulated system.

    So, I'm one of those 'statistics'. Its a lack of value, but if there was a suitable price, I'd buy it.

  • I dunno... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:19PM (#26577911) Journal

    It took us forever to get mother-in-law on broadband. Her computer is a cast-off donated by one of her sons which I've upgraded a couple of times. Thing is, she only uses it for email. Why would you need broadband for that? She finally converted when the local cable company offered her a package that essentially included it for free compared to the combined cost of phone/tv/dialup.

    Parenthetically, I think this is the only way you're going to convert casual users -- by bundling broadband in with services considered more important.

    Having broadband at her house helps me when our family visits, because I can work from there if necessary (I'm on call essentially 24/7) instead of driving down to the local coffee shop to use their wifi. But for her, the value is that her Outlook Express mailbox fills up in 2 seconds instead of 12. Given her computer takes 4 1/2 minutes to boot, the speed of fetching her email is down in the noise.

    I think most of the unwashed public just can't see any value. (other than looking at pr0n...) This seems odd to us geeks, but it's demonstrably true -- demonstrable if you know any non-geeks. Unless you're streaming video, the higher bandwidth is barely perceptible. Who cares if a page loads in 1/8 of a second instead of 1/2 of a second? Well, I do, (and there seems to be unnecessary latency on my 20/5 FIOS line) but I observe (without completely understanding) that normal people do not.

    If you want broadband saturation, you need a Killer App. Until very recently, there wasn't any legitimate non-geek use for it. Now you can catch up on TV episodes and watch old programs as streaming video. This is a good start, but it isn't as cool to the rank and file as you might think. Fred and Ethyl are used to watching TV on their TV, and having to crouch over a 17 inch monitor and poke webpage buttons with a mouse is not part of their paradigm. (There are solutions for all of this, but they're not well integrated -- forget it unless you know a geek.)

    The Netflix box, Apple TV, are a good start -- they're actually *more* convenient than driving to Blockbuster, rather than *less* convenient. (I tried to explain torrents to my mom once. Yeah, right...) But the hard fact is, Fred and Ethyl are still more likely to watch whatever is on cable at the time their butts happen to be on the couch. It's just the way it is.

    In this response, I've completely ignored the huge amount of non-entertainment information available on the internet, because I think the great majority largely ignores it also. If an online news service has a million unique hits, that's not much in a country of 300+M people. I suspect that the great majority still wants someone attractive-looking to tell them what's important in 43 minutes minus commercials. This concerns me, because it tends to further stratify the country, but making someone buy a product they don't want and don't think they need is always going to be problematic.

  • I can relate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kalirion (728907) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:21PM (#26577957)

    I only got a cell phone 3 years ago and use it less than 30 min a month, it doesn't have a camera, and the only text messages I've sent is "Wrong number" replies. I'm not signed up with myspace/facebook/twitter/whateverelseisthefadthisyear, and abandoned my blog after a few months since I had nothing interesting to say. I don't have satellite/digital cable or and do not own a single HDTV set. I still use a VCR - no TIVO/DVR. I'm satisfied with a $15/month 768kb DSL connection since anything faster would cost at least twice as much in my area. I'm a software engineer, yet by today's standards I would be considered a Luddite.

  • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:43PM (#26578351)
    Most folks that are on dial-up plans are in the $20-30/month neighborhood in addition to the cost of the landline phone. The cost for lower-speed broadband connections is in the same neighborhood and often times can be combined on their telephone or cable bill, rather than to a 3rd party company. I can't think of any reason why anyone on one of these plans doesn't switch other than laziness. In the past, I've heard the argument that they didn't "want holes drilled in their walls" to run a new cable (e.g. no CATV outlet near their huge computer enclosure desk). With the advent of WiFi nothing is stoping these folks from setting the Cable modem at any CATV jack and putting up a cheap AP (in fact most companies will sell you the equipment and set it up for free/cheap.)

    You'd think that we'd do anything to save time, but there are all kinds of folks (particularly older and/or uneducated) that are willing to do things the tedious, long, hard way rather than be troubled to learn anything new. Everytime I've been in a job in IT and watched employees waste company time doing things inefficently (e.g. doing labels one-at-a-time), I've tried to teach them and if they were completely unwilling to even listen or try it, I go to their supervisor and say "I can make a lot more efficent for your department but he/she is completely unwilling to consider it" and usually they come around or are disciplined if they continue to waste time. Half of the battle is knowing.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:12PM (#26578859) Journal

    Every new PC with a fast internet connection is another potential spambot. Knowledgeable people, or people who know knowledgeable people, can take steps to avoid getting pwn3d. The rank and file are at the mercy of, well, everyone, and the ISPs are not helping.

    When I heard that mother-in-law had finally gotten cable internet, I asked her how they had set it up... They powered up a vanilla cable modem and connected her Windows PC to the raw internet! I told her to turn off her computer, drove the 3 hours to her house, installed and configured a firewall appliance between her computer and the modem. It was a pain, but scrubbing her computer later would potentially have been a greater pain.

    Many ISPs give you a router with some firewall capabilities, but there are many others, especially the cheaper ones, who are just passing out modems without even NAT capability. Imagine another 100 million spambots with broadband. I know, it's your responsibility to keep your own machine secure, but most people will just reboot to catch an IP address and then "hey, look at all the pr0n!".

    I would submit that we don't *want* millions of new Joe Sixpacks on the net until we establish that it can be done with reasonable safety.

    This is not elitist. It's self-defense.

    Let me put on my tinfoil hat for a minute... I have it somewhere. Ah here it is. Consider this: What is our main defense against the pap that talking heads feed us in monolithically owned news services? The internet. What would be a really great way to severely diminish it's usefulness? Cause the creation of the largest botnet in history. Not that I'm paranoid or anything.

  • by layer3switch (783864) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:24PM (#26579073)

    "It (the first central commercial incandescent electric generating station) provided electricity to one square mile in New York City in 1882. The first day it operated only 52 customers wanted electricity."

    ref: http://library.thinkquest.org/6064/history.html [thinkquest.org]

    convincing vast majority about useful utility for higher quality of life is not alway about supply and demand or availability of technology.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:46PM (#26579379) Homepage Journal

    I've tried 1,000 times to get a computer and Internet access for my mom, but she flatly rejects it. She actively doesn't want a computer. It's not because she doesn't know how to use them, but that she put in her years running a mainframe and is utterly burnt out on the subject.

    Me: So at work, we have one computer with lots of hard drives and set the other computers to store their users' information on it instead of their own hard drives.
    Mom: So your home directories are on NFS?
    Me: Are you sure you don't want a computer, maybe a nice Mac?
    Mom: No, and quit asking!

    ...or...

    Me: I got a DSL connection.
    Mom: Is that fast?
    Me: In network terms, it's around 8 megabits.
    Mom: So, about 5 T1s?
    Me: Not even a little laptop?
    Mom: No, and quit asking!

    She's not skipping the "Internet revolution" because it's above her head. She's skipping it because she was there when they were building it, she did her time, and now wants to do other stuff.

  • by loshwomp (468955) on Friday January 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#26579469)

    The don't want it because they don't know what it can do. It's the same reason we don't have a good national (or even regional) electric train system. Few people have ever seen one, know that they exist, or have any idea of the benefits.

  • by slapout (93640) on Friday January 23, 2009 @06:48PM (#26582411)

    Phone rings.

    John Doe: Hello

    Pew: Hi. I'm calling to ask if you'd like broadband.

    John: What? A broad with a band?

    Pew: No, sir. Internet access.

    John: Enter knits? What are you taking about?

    Pew: Broadband internet access.

    John: A band made up of broads who knit?
     

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday January 23, 2009 @08:19PM (#26583531)

    Seriously. My grandpa was perfectly content with his dialup for years. He knew "broadband" was faster but it cost a lot more money and he could deal with dialup. He had a pattern. He'd start the computer and fire up the email client then go make breakfast or lunch depending on the time of day. By the time he was done, his email attachments were usually downloaded. He'd read his messages, set a few pictures to forward, reply with some new ones of his own, then hit the send/receive button and go do something for a while. Come back in an hour or so and it was done. Then he'd check his weather reports. Each map could take 5+ minutes to download but he could wait.

    Then his neighbor got a cablemodem. He and the neighbor got to talking about it and my grandpa went over to check it out. His weather sites loaded in seconds instead of minutes. News sites. Investment sites. Everything was so fast! He called me up. "So I imagine my email will be faster, too? No more waiting half an hour for a few pictures to download? And those updates you install when you visit?"

    So, the next time I was there, we took a trip to the cable company's office and picked up a cablemodem. And, maybe a week after that, he had me order him a new computer 'cause the Celery/333 had become the bottleneck. And it's totally worth the extra money to him. He would probably pay a hundred bucks a month now that he knows that going from dialup to cable is like going from peeking through the keyhole of a library to having the doors thrown open.

    I just wish cable companies would offer something like 512/128 for $10-15/month. That's all that many people need. Heck, I had 384/128 at a cheap rate for years and it was fine for me.

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