Internet for All

The Internet has only been around since 1969, and the first Web page only since 1989.

I’ve always thought it would be a good thing for all of us to have Internet access. That’s right: an entitlement. Maybe that’s what the broadband stimulus is all about. Giving everyone access.

According to a survey commissioned by the BBC, nearly 80% of the world see it as a fundamental right. 90% believe it is a good place to learn.

The survey – of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries – found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.

“The right to communicate cannot be ignored,” Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told BBC News.

“The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created.”

He said that governments must “regard the internet as basic infrastructure – just like roads, waste and water”.

“We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate.”

Get a copy of the PDF here. Check the methodology for yourself.

We must find a way for everyone in the U.S. to have access to this essential resource.

We The Internet

Should Internet access be an entitlemet? I think it should be and some day, it will. The President’s plan to make it available everywhere may be challenged by preferences expressed by those who are supposed to benefit. Maybe they don’t get it — or just don’t care.

Today’s Washington Post has a piece on a report issued by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Broadband costs more, and that’s holding people back:

According to the survey, 13 percent of non-users said they don’t use the Internet or e-mail because they can’t access broadband. Nine percent of those surveyed said they find e-mail and the Internet too difficult to use, 7 percent said they are too busy or don’t have time, and 4 percent said they don’t have access to a computer.

For those with dial-up Internet access, 35 percent said prices for broadband — which average $34.50 a month — would have to go down for them to upgrade to high-speed cable, fiber-optic, or DSL Internet service, according to the survey.

“The problem with price has to do with competition,” said Andrew Schwartzman, president of public access group Media Access Project. Schwartzman said that users are typically forced to choose between two to three options for high-speed Internet service.

The nonprofit group One Economy has urged lawmakers to include provisions in a stimulus plan that would renovate public housing so that all units in a building would have access to a shared data network, thereby reducing monthly costs per home by several dollars a month.

What if the FCC frees up so-called “white spaces” of radio spectrum and use it for free Internet access? Great idea. Finally, a modern version of the Minitel — only wireless.

Interesting results:

What is the MAIN reason you don’t use the internet or email?
(asked of non-users) Non-internet users = 25% of all adults
% of non-users     % of all adults
Not interested in getting online         33%             8.3%
Can’t get access                                      13%             3.3%
Difficult                                                   9%             2.3%
Other reason                                          9%             2.3%
Too expensive                                        7%             1.8%
Too busy/no time                                 7%             1.8%
Waste of time                                        7%             1.8%
Don’t have computer                          4%             1.0%
Too old to learn                                   3%             0.8%
Physically unable                                3%             0.8%