Pew Research just unveiled the results of their latest survey looking at how folks feel about policies intended to encourage broadband adoption. Turns out a majority of folks support municipal opportunity..
A substantial majority of the public (70%) believes local governments should be able to build their own broadband networks if existing services in the area are either too expensive or not good enough, according to the survey, conducted March 13-27. Just 27% of U.S. adults say these so-called municipal broadband networks should not be allowed. (A number of state laws currently prevent cities from building their own high-speed networks, and several U.S. senators recently introduced a bill that would ban these restrictions.)
There’s a more mixed reaction to government subsidies to support low income access to broadband…
At the same time, fewer than half of Americans (44%) think the government should provide subsidies to help lower-income Americans pay for high-speed internet at home. A larger share (54%) says high-speed home internet service is affordable enough that nearly every household should be able to buy service on its own.
There’s more agreement again on the need of broadband…
These policy debates are occurring at a time when roughly nine-in-ten Americans describe high-speed internet service as either essential (49%) or important but not essential (41%). Only about one-in-ten Americans say that high-speed internet access is either not too important (6%) or not important at all (3%).
Republicans and Democrats tend to agree that broadband is important, but Democrats are more likely to say it is essential: 58% of Democrats and Democratic leaners describe broadband in this way, compared with 38% of Republicans and Republican leaners. A similar split is evident by race and ethnicity, with blacks (55%) and Hispanics (61%) more likely than whites (45%) to say that high-speed access at home is essential.
Current broadband users also place a higher value on high-speed access: 52% of current users describe the service as essential, compared with 36% among non-users. In fact, roughly a quarter of those who do not have broadband in their homes say that high-speed internet service is either not too important (15%) or not important at all (10%). Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found that broadband users see greater value in high-speed access at home than non-users, although there is evidence that attitudes among non-users have been growing more positive in recent years.