Broadband growth in the United States over the past year was the weakest since 2004, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Around 66 percent of the American adult population was found to have broadband access at home. Although broadband penetration among the adult population grew year-over-year, the rate of change was just 5 percent. It seems trivial compared to recent years when it hovered between 12 and 17 percent.
Another key finding is that a large number of people do not think that the issue of broadband penetration is important enough to figure prominently on the government's list of priorities. About 53 percent of those surveyed don't want the government to spend its resources on broadband.
As for factors responsible for slowing broadband growth, Aaron Smith, the report's author, blames “economic hard times, combined with a lot of barriers and general reluctance on the part of nonadopters.”
"The pool of people available to become adopters ... don't see a lot of relevance to online content and they're not particularly comfortable using the technology," Smith said. "The remaining people who don't have it are a little bit tougher sell at this point."
There was a silver lining, though. Broadband adoption among African-American adults increased considerably during the past year. It rose from 46 percent in April 2009 to 56 percent in May 2010.
Newton's third law of motion states "to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," which might help explain why ISPs feel compelled to offer increasingly faster broadband, yet place bandwidth restrictions as low as 40GB/month. It hardly seems fair considering that streaming HD content is finally starting to take hold, along with downloadable games, an increased interest in Linux, and other ways to use up that monthly allotment. New York Congressman Eric Massa doesn't think it's fair either and has pledged to introduce a bill called the "Broadband Internet Fairness Act."
"I am taking a leadership position on this issue because of all the phone calls, emails, and faxes I've received from my district and all over the country," Massa said in a statement. "While I favor a businesses' right to maximize their profit potential, I believe safeguards must be put in place when a business has a monopoly on a specific region."
Massa was referring to Time Warner Cable (TWC), who said it plans to test tiered internet service in Rochester, New York, which resides in Massa's district. Even more startling is AT&T's plans to test its 20GB data cap in the same town where TWC began its pilot program.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, will come from Massa's proposed bill, but the lesson here is that if you take the time to write, email, or call your Congressman, someone just might listen.