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The Internet Upgrades

Many Americans Still Don't Have Home Net Access 313

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the willing-luddites dept.
Weather Storm wrote in with a story about those who see no need for home net access. Surprisingly, it's not the cost that is a barrier to entry. Instead, most say they don't see the value of having a net connection at home. "A little under one-third of U.S. households have no Internet access and do not plan to get it, with most of the holdouts seeing little use for it in their lives, according to a new survey. Park Associates, a Dallas-based technology market research firm, said 29 percent of U.S. households, or 31 million homes, do not have Internet access and do not intend to subscribe to an Internet service over the next 12 months."
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Many Americans Still Don't Have Home Net Access

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2007 @11:35AM (#18470771)
    People using their neighbor's "free" wifi?
    • by dubbreak (623656)
      Actually I am guilty of that right now. I am house sitting and I didn't feel like bringing a wireless router over, so I just leach off the neighbours.

      I could do the same thing at home, but even with at least 2 open access points around me I don't like the lack of reliability. Of course during a winter storm that cut out my connection I had some redundancy ;). Funny thing was that they were with the same company on the same block and I seemed to get better speeds off them.. oh well.
    • Re:Does that include (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:42PM (#18471257)
      In some cases it actually is free you know- I keep my router open so anyone can use it, because I feel its the right thing to do. I have unused resources, why shouldn't someone else get them?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        I have unused resources, why shouldn't someone else get them?

        Cool. Can I use your connection to download kiddie porn and discuss the planning of, um, an "event" with my friend Osama? Sure, you'll be legally responsible and a prime suspect, but it's all about sharing, right?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2007 @01:07PM (#18471433)
          He wouldn't be liable as he'd be protected as an internet service provider.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by stephanruby (542433)
          "Cool. Can I use your connection to download kiddie porn and discuss the planning of, um, an "event" with my friend Osama? Sure, you'll be legally responsible and a prime suspect, but it's all about sharing, right? "

          In the case of kiddie porn and homeland security, the authorities would come knocking on his door at 5 am -- they'd image his hard drive(s), they'd mess up his place, and they may even put him in hand cuffs, but that'd be the end of it. It's really the RIAA he would have to worry about, but t
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by jonnythan (79727)
        Because you signed a contract saying that you're not allowed to share those resources.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wordplay (54438)
          Because, you know, every single ISP in the US has that clause in their contract.
      • In some cases it actually is free you know- I keep my router open so anyone can use it, because I feel its the right thing to do. I have unused resources, why shouldn't someone else get them?

        The problem with that is - your unused resources end at the network jack of your router. Everything past that belongs to somebody else - and while you pay for acess to those resources, that does not imply that you can give them away for free to anyone who happens to drive by.
      • by antdude (79039)
        Where do you live so we can use it? Free bandwidth rocks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SeaFox (739806)

        I have unused resources, why shouldn't someone else get them?

        Because the prices the ISP charges are inevitably going to be based on how much the service costs them to operate and how much revenue they get from it. So if you have a bunch of people using the service through your open router, but not paying a subscription fee, the result is the ISP now has to raise rates to support the cost of the service and their profit margins.

        So now all of us who [i]are[/i] paying for service and not just leeching off an o

  • by Darundal (891860) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @11:37AM (#18470795) Journal
    ...that the majority of these people do not have children in middle or high school, or if they do, that they rely heavily upon libraries or school systems for work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kamapuaa (555446)
      I would be willing to bet that the majority of these people are not lesbian eskimos, or if they are, that they must do their research at the library or the local school system.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alexschmidt (1026034)
      My parents are retired and my father has never really trusted computers. My mother still pays her bills by check, they same way she has always done it. They have no compelling reason to change how they go about their business. I bought them internet access a few years ago, but sadly the dial-up service (Telus in Alberta) was just awful. It took forever to get logged in and it kicked people off for no reason. This soured the experience and they never want to do it again.
    • they have Real Lives.
    • by bendodge (998616)
      I'd bet most of the people who do not want internet are in their 50's, probably live in a rural or semi-rural area, and know everyone for miles around. They simply don't want life in the fast lane; they want a quiet, peaceful retirement.
  • As I type on my computer hooked-up 42" TV, look over at my PDA which says I have new email and surf the local weather on my phone I dont get it.

    What is this "No Internet" of which you speak?
  • by Fuzzie Viking (746210) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @11:41AM (#18470825) Homepage
    Whether we want to admit it or not, there are people who just don't care about the internet and what is on it. Most people here do care - in most cases we are heavily involved with it daily so it just seems foreign to us that "they just don't get it!"

    I don't see this as a bad thing, just different.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103)
      That may be true, but don't overlook the fact that many people feel intimidated by the prospect of learning to navigate the internet and dealing with computers perhaps for the first time. This is usually going to come out as "don't need it" on surveys like this. They may also fear all of the horrible things that they hear about the internet, especially on their local TV news. FUD works.

      • by Elemenope (905108) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:38PM (#18471227)

        I'd say it's about three distinct thirds. That is, about one third of the non-users are just tech-intimidated and do not wish to feel stupid and/or incompetent while learning an entirely new skill set; newbie errors inevitably happen, and nobody likes to feel like a noob. A second third are people who truly honestly have rich, full lives without connectivity; it can't be that hard since people used to do it all the time! The final third are people who can't afford it, and would much rather concentrate on feeding their kids or making car payments. I have contempt for only the first third; fear of failure is a dumb reason to not try something new. The other two, however, have damn good reasons for staying offline.

      • by penix1 (722987)

        They may also fear all of the horrible things that they hear about the internet, especially on their local TV news. FUD works.

        A little healthy "FUD" is a good thing. Malware, spyware, torjans, pr0n, phishing, spam, **AA law suits, key loggers, stolen identities, and yes even murder by luring. They are all real. They all can land you in real trouble. I would say the "FUD" is justified especially for a non-technical user.

        I had broadband and got rid of it. I went back to dialup. There isn't anything legal out

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FlyByPC (841016)
      My grandparents, for one. We've tried a Mailstation (thinking it was the easiest way to at least get them email.) We tried a very simple Windows installation (Win98 is actually pretty reliable if you only use it with IE). For some reason, they just don't see the importance of the 'Net -- at least not for them personally. At least they live reasonably nearby, so it's easy to go see them once in a while. It would be nice to be able to send them pictures or the occasional YouTube link, though.

      We're about to
  • To each their own. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sage Jackal (1073604) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @11:47AM (#18470861)
    I find it morbidly amusing how some people find the lack of desire to have net access must mean there's something inherently wrong with the person.

    Did it ever occur to you that this is no one thing everyone wants or likes? Does everyone watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, have a (cell)phone? No. Each person has there own preference to how they get information and communicate with others and the world.

    Now, whether or not this survey is accurate, as some have already and vibrantly pointed out, is another issue.

    • Did it ever occur to you that this is no one thing everyone wants or likes? Does everyone watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, have a (cell)phone?

      Indeed. I'm one of the few people I know who does not own a cellphone, nor do I intend to get one in the forseeable future. I can't stand it when my land line rings. I don't need to carry that annoying crap with me every where I go.

      I can just see it now ... I get off my ass to go to the grocery store to get some milk. I say "be back soon, hon" to my
      • by nuzak (959558)
        Perhaps it's occurred to you that you can turn your phone off? Or put it on silent? If you have a wife that's that constantly demanding of your attention, then your problem isn't with the technology. No one's forcing you to have one (well, unless you work in IT support or ops), so don't blame the device.

        Not having one does save some cash though.
        • Well duh.

          The point is the phone would always be turned off.

          I'm the type of person who hates talking on the phone no matter the occasion or person. I don't even like ordering a pizza over the phone. I don't even like talking to my father whom I only see once every 5 years or so over the phone (though I do it anyway since it's our only means of communication, I still don't have to like it).

          My wife is currently on vacation and there's undoubtedly dozens of messages waiting for us but I wouldn't even know becau
      • Cell phones can be turned off, you know.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Does everyone (...) have a (cell)phone?

      Teens do, at least around here. I remember reading about it in the newspaper, in the 16-19 group 100.0% had a cell phone. That just doesn't happen very often, there's always some sort of wierdo that think they send mind control rays or whatever. No wonder really since there's hardly any public phones anymore, if you want to call someone and you're not at home, you must have a cell phone.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      I find it morbidly amusing how some people find the lack of desire to have net access must mean there's something inherently wrong with the person.

      To be fair, it isn't really that needed to have internet access and personally I wish I could do without sometimes. (I often tell people when I am not at work if they need to get a hold of me to use the phone because of having to sit in front of the computer 8 hours a day makes me hate the internet... but I digress)

      However, let me use an anology....

      Using the inte
  • I am not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @11:50AM (#18470883)
    You know why? Because young Americans are still geographically illiterate according to this article. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/05 02_060502_geography.html [nationalgeographic.com].

    It was also reported that about 23% of mature Americans cannot read a schedule! Further still, from one study, America's adults made no progress in their ability to read a newspaper, a book or any other prose arranged in sentences and paragraphs!

    This is amazing because this nation has had "free" education for a long time - education that would have prevented these appalling figures.

    With figures like these, why should anyone expect a different outcome when it comes to internet access? Populations like these cannot generate effective demand for services similar to those found on the internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by liquidpele (663430)
      It's usually not that they ever could, it's that they have forgotten how to think/learn.

      Most adults get into monotonous jobs, and forget how to learn new things while still forgetting all the stuff they've learned over the years because they never practice it or build on that foundation. Just look at the people on that "are you smarter than a 5th grader" show. I can't imagine missing 90% of those questions, I can't even watch the show anymore!
      • And, just what IQ would you assign to someone who believes that show is not rigged and the 'contestants' don't really know the answers?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      It's not that hard to believe after watching an episode of "Are you smarter than a 5th Grader" [fox.com]. It's hard to imagine how dumb people can be before you actually see it. People who can't subtract 5 from 12 without using their fingers and taking 30 seconds to figure it out. People who think that all the continents are countries. ( Even after being able to name them all). Or people who can't do simple math like, "If y=3x and 3x=12 then what does y equal?" Seriously, the lack of intelligence in some people
  • . . . is about the only thing holding this back. Once you get decent broadband (I don't count anything less than a megabit downstream) you open up a whole slew of new possibilities that just aren't practical on dialup. Some will never get home internet access or even a home computer, but I'd bet money that a big chunk of that 1/3 without home Internet access has a land-line phone and probably cable/satelite TV. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Internet will eventually completely replace POTS and analo

  • by segfaultcoredump (226031) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:00PM (#18470963)
    They had internet access. First dial up, then a DLS line.

    After a year or so, my siblings were the only ones using it, usually to download spyware and such while hitting myspace.

    After walking my dad through reinstalling XP home on the computer to get rid of all of the crap, he gave up. The computer now sits in the corner of their home and is rarely used.

    When they need internet access, they go to the library. It is not a major part of their life.

    If I lived a bit closer, I would probably be able to put linux or lock down XP and make it a bit more secure on their system and set it up for them to use. Even then, the monthly cost of the dsl line was not worth it to them given the amount of use they would get out of it.

    All of that said, I do see a market for something like a SunRay @ home for users like my parents. Small terminal that actually runs everything remotely. With higher speed internet connections (A sunray only needs about 1Mbps for very acceptable performance with a 1280x1024) and almost no power draw, it is perfect for things like this (yes, you can setup a similar setup with a linux terminal, but the sunray is actually simpler. I've done both in my life)

    While such a setup would not be workable for most slashdoters, it would work fine for the rest of the world who dont care to become computer mechanics just to browse the web (think tivo users vs mythTV users)
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zerus (108592) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:03PM (#18470991) Homepage
    In the US, many jobs require using a computer every day for 8 hours while at the office. In the opinion of many that I know and have worked with, they don't see why they would want to sit in front of a computer for a few more hours when they get off work. This isn't a US vs rest of the world thing, it's apathy! Why sit in front of the computer typing away every night when you do it all day at work? That's what it comes down to for most of the baby boomer generation. For younger generations, it is probably borrowing their neighbor's wifi connection. For the 22% who said that they can't afford a computer, they didn't ask them if they could afford smoking either. So it's my opinion that the survey is somewhat incomplete and skews results in a certain way to make it look like much of the US is a backwards society when that's really not case. Some people just don't care about technology. Having other priorities and interests is not a bad thing.
  • TV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QBasicer (781745)
    I wonder what the percentage of Americans have a TV? Many people have more than one TV, yet only have one computer. Cost may be a factor in that, but seeing as you can buy cheap computers from companies like Dell, I don't think that price is that big of an issue. Somehow people finding sitting infront of a computer for 2-3 hours bad, but sitting infront of the TV for an entire day fine. Is the general population afraid of computers? Or do they like to put their mind into coast mode and have content spo
  • Not too surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bilbo (7015) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:07PM (#18471015) Homepage
    I don't know about the numbers, but I do know that I'm acquainted with plenty of people who still don't have Internet access. Some of them live outside of the range of cheap broadband. Mostly, it's older people who figure that they've lived all their lives without the Internet, so why go through the hassle of learning how to use it now? They have no problem with staying connected to their friends through the phone, or (*gasp*) through the US Mail. They can order things from catalogs using the phone, or just drive to the store if they need anything. There are plenty of very real dangers out there for someone who doesn't know what he or she is doing (phishing, rootkits, botnets, spam, internet scams, etc.) and they just don't see the benefits to outweigh the risks.

    Personally, I'd have a hard time adjusting to not having broadband, but I could probably survive. Slashdot withdrawal is not generally considered to be fatal.

  • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:09PM (#18471027)
    I don't have access at home, and I don't really care. When I need access on a weekend, I'm usually at a coffee shop ( like now ) anyway, and at least where I am -- DC -- there's quite a few free WAPs.

    I used to have DSL at my old apartment, and I spent too much time online. Frankly, I'd rather be writing code, or reading a book. I get "enough" internet access at work. If I know I'm going to need some offline documentation, I download it when I have access and keep it around.

    What it comes down to is this: When my girlfriend and I moved in together, we discussed whether internet & cable tv were worth the expense, and we decided it wasn't. It's a lot of money to -- essentially -- veg out. We'd rather spend time together, or read, or go exercise, or do something worthwhile.

    Now, that being said it's saturday and I'm on slashdot from a free WAP dowtown. So, I guess it's hard to take me seriously.
  • That's amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:11PM (#18471037) Homepage Journal

    Over 70% penetration in a little more than a decade. That is unbelievably fast, and the best proof yet -- if you needed any -- that Internet access will become as much a commonplace utility as electricity, phone service or running water. Although it's obvious that it's the existing power, telephony and cable TV infrastructure that made the rapid adoption possible, it's still worth pointing out that that's more adoption, faster, than any other technology I can think of. Maybe VCRs became more common, faster? Not sure.

    It's going to be very interesting to see what the net looks like when the average 40 year-old has never known life without it.

  • 29 percent of American households consist of "really old people".
    • Re:In other news.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JimBobJoe (2758) <<swiftheart> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday March 24, 2007 @02:13PM (#18471975)
      29 percent of American households consist of "really old people".

      I was at a nursing home the other day, getting a tour, and the manager pointed me to a computer with an internet connection. She said that it was "very popular with some of our residents...particularly those over the age of 90."

      Over the age of 90? I asked her what she attributed that to:

      "It's a trick you see. People who get to be 90 have a natural predisposition to wanting to live longer, and as part of living longer, they want to stay as involved in and be a part of society as much as possible, and the internet is a major part of society today."
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:21PM (#18471099) Homepage

    This is about right. Cable TV hit about 60% market penetration by household in the US [ncta.com] years ago, and has been stuck there since. That's probably about where Internet penetration will end up.

    US broadband penetration is up to 80% of US Internet users. [websiteoptimization.com] Some other countries are higher, but they're mostly countries which are either very crowded or very cold.

  • then they'll get on that whatsit, that "internets."
  • by Technician (215283) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @12:41PM (#18471247)
    Surprisingly, it's not the cost that is a barrier to entry. Instead, most say they don't see the value of having a net connection at home.

    At lower cost the value equasion changes. Most people don't see the value of having a fishing boat and RV at home. It would be nice to have but the cost is the limitation for many people. At $60/month it is difficult for many to justify the cost against the value. If I was single, I would still be on dial-up. With a family, I can justify the cost.
  • An article that truly warrants the "thinkofthechildren" tag.
  • One third of Americans are actually sensible...
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @01:14PM (#18471499)
    who are not obese.
  • I don't have phone service. I don't need it. So what?
  • I wonder how many don't want internet connections at home simply because they have access to the internet at work, and their employer has liberal usage policies. My employer is like this -- as long as you keep it legal and clean (no porn, no illegal downloads or p2p file sharing) they have no problems with personal usage. Some people might find it hard to justify spending $$$ per month when they don't need to.
  • ...and I'll show you someone who isn't much interested in learning about the universe.
  • The oddest non-computer, non-internet user I know is a mechanical engineer friend who is extremely creative who refuses to use computers, and has refused to learn for 20 years, & yet would benefit so much from using it. It has hurt his work, but he trudges on with paper and pencil. His sons use computers all the time, and his oldest son is now at Annapolis.

    These types of people see the downside of the hassles and frustrations as being insurmountable for their psyche. It is a total mental rejection of
  • There are quite a few people on my campus who don't even own a computer. They live in the computer lab checking out myspace and facebook so that other people can't print out things. But then turn around and spend their money on drugs.
  • That "buttons and make-up are evil, churning butter and barn raisings are kinda nifty", and concluded by asking "do you like my beard?"
  • by briancnorton (586947) on Saturday March 24, 2007 @03:05PM (#18472427) Homepage
    $14/mo for DSL certainly isn't breaking my bank, but for the most part, I don't do anything on the net (says the man in a slashdot posting) that I couldn't live without. I have it at home because my wife needs it for grad school, and I do my time sheets for work. The net is what you make of it, but for many it seems too much like watching tv, twiddling away the hours until death.

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