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Americans can't agree on government's role in broadband

Pew finds some Americans want municipalities to build their own broadband networks. Others argue it's cheap and good enough already.

Americans can't agree on how local governments should provide high speed internet.
James Martin/CNET

While the majority of people can agree on the importance of fast internet, Americans are having a hard time figuring out who should be responsible for it.

A Pew Research study took a look at how Americans feel about local governments building their own broadband networks and providing subsidies for low-income homes to get access to faster internet.

While 90 percent of respondents from the survey in March agreed that high-speed internet access is either essential or important, there are issues with how people can get it.

When it comes to the government providing internet access with its own broadband network in areas where the service is too slow or too expensive, 70 percent of respondents agreed it should be allowed. Laws in certain states prevent cities from building their own fast and cheap internet, which US senators are trying to end with the Community Broadband Act.

Even though the majority of Americans would like local governments to provide internet services, they don't want their taxes helping to pay for it. Only 44 percent of US adults believed that the government should provide subsidies to low-income families to afford fast internet. When looking just at Democrats and Republicans making more than $75,000 a year, it shifts to 60 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

The US government has been under fire in recent weeks for its role on internet policies, as Congress voted to kill internet privacy rules and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai gears up to take down net neutrality.

Pai has also promised to provide speedy broadband "for all" Americans as he pushes for faster and cheaper service.