Survey: Voters Back Broadband Subsidy Programs

A pile of money
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A majority of U.S. voters said broadband, devices and computer skills are essential to success in the 21st century and agree that investment in ubiquitous affordable broadband in Biden administration-backed legislation can help close the digital divide for good.

That is according to a survey conducted by Moore Information Group and David Binder Research for Connect Americans Now.

“Voters overwhelmingly agree that access to an affordable, reliable broadband connection and the digital devices and skills necessary to unlock the full potential of technology are critical to safeguarding the promise of the American Dream in the 21st Century,” CAN executive director Richard T. Cullen said. “More than ever, creating good jobs, lifting wages, reducing poverty, improving health outcomes and strengthening education depend on affordable, reliable broadband connectivity in every American community.”

Cullen said that the infrastructure package — with about $65 billion for broadband — would be a critical downpayment on closing the digital divide.

The survey comprised telephone interviews with 800 voters nationwide conducted Oct. 20-24. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

That survey found that 84% of respondents said the internet was either essential (54%) or important. More than nine in 10 African American voters agreed with the statement that “access to broadband internet is essential to protecting and realizing the American Dream in the 21st Century economy and classroom.”

Almost nine in 10 (89%) of the voters polled said that having a device was essential and important for success in the economy and classroom and 81% said Americans must have the digital skills to achieve that success.

The Biden broadband subsidy money is going to schools and libraries and low-income residents, and includes subsidizing a variety of broadband access devices.

The survey found that a majority (60%) supported the Biden infrastructure package — which has already passed the Senate — with only 28% opposing it. Support for the bill is highest among the lowest-income residents most likely to benefit, with 74% calling the legislation essential or important.

And for legislators gauging their potential success in midterm elections, the survey found that almost six in 10 would be more likely to support a congressional candidate who supports “making sure every American can access an affordable and reliable broadband internet connection.”

Connect Americans Now is an eclectic coalition of connectivity advocates, ranging from computer companies and app developers to barley growers and bison raisers.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.