Has the market for home broadband reached a saturation point? It may have, at least according to the results of a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
After several years of solid gains, the rate of broadband adoption has slowed over the past year, according to the Home Broadband 2010 study (PDF) released Wednesday.
Among the more than 2,000 adults surveyed for the study, 66 percent now have a broadband Internet connection at home, a number not much higher than the 63 percent reported last year. Those percentages compare with 55 percent for the same period in 2008 and 47 percent in 2007.
The study discovered that 21 percent of those surveyed just don't use the Internet, citing a few different reasons. Many believe the content they'd find online wouldn't be very relevant to their lives. Some are simply not interested in jumping online. And others said they're not comfortable or savvy enough to use computers or the Internet on their own.
But those who don't have broadband access do face several challenges, according to the survey respondents. Among those questioned, many believe the lack of broadband is a major disadvantage when discovering job opportunities or gaining new career skills, getting information on health, and just learning new things to enrich or improve their lives.
Pew also questioned people about the effort government should expend toward making high-speed Internet available for everyone. A goal that's been advanced by the FCC through its national broadband policy, it's also generated debate over the time, money, and resources that would be required.
Among those surveyed, only 11 percent said that expanding broadband to everyone should be a top priority of the government. Thirty percent said it's important but a lower priority, 27 percent said it's not too important, and 26 percent said it shouldn't be done at all. Non-Internet users were more likely than Internet users to say that it shouldn't be a high priority.
Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, the Pew Internet study interviewed 2,252 U.S. adults 18 years and older between April 29 and May 30. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is part of the Pew Research Center.