Monday, November 14, 2011

Broadband Divide Continues

Earlier this week, the Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a study titled Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home. The study analyzed 54,000 households using 2010 census data. Here's some details from a blog post at

  • 68 % of households used broadband in 2010.
  • Broadband adoption rates are slower that mobile.
  • Households with lower incomes and less education, as well as Blacks, Hispanics, people with disabilities, and rural residents, were less likely to have Internet service at home.
  • Seventy percent of urban households had broadband at home, compared to 57 percent of rural households.
  • Less than half (43 percent) of households with annual incomes below $25,000 had broadband access at home, while 93 percent of households with incomes exceeding $100,000 had broadband.
Here's more from the study report:
  • As of October 2010, more than 68 percent of households used broadband Internet access service, up from 64 percent one year earlier. Approximately 80 percent of households had at least one Internet user, either at home or elsewhere. 
  •  Cable modem (32 percent) and DSL (23 percent) ranked as the most commonly used broadband technologies. Other technologies, including mobile broadband, fiber optics, and satellite services, accounted for a small, but growing, segment of households with broadband Internet access service.
  • 2000s – continued to decline from five percent in October 2009 to three percent one year later.
  • Over three-fourths (77 percent) of households had a computer – the principal means by which households access the Internet – compared with 62 percent in 2003. Low computer use correlates with low broadband adoption rates.
  • Broadband Internet adoption, as well as computer use, varied across demographic and geographic groups. Lower income families, people with less education, those with disabilities, Blacks, Hispanics, and rural residents generally lagged the national average in both broadband adoption and computer use. For example, home broadband adoption and computer use stood at only 16 percent and 27 percent, respectively, among rural households headed by a Black householder without a high school diploma. Also, households with school-age children exhibited higher broadband adoption and computer use rates than other households.
  • The differences in socio-economic attributes do not entirely explain why some groups lagged in adoption. Broadband Internet adoption disparities decrease when regression analysis holds constant certain household characteristics, such as income, education, race, ethnicity, foreign-born status, household composition, disability status, or geographic location. For example, the gap with respect to broadband Internet adoption associated with disabilities decreases from 29 to six percentage points when controlling for income, education, age, and other attributes.
  • The most important reasons households without broadband Internet or dial-up service gave for not subscribing were: (1) lack of need or interest (47 percent); (2) lack of affordability (24 percent); and (3) inadequate computer (15 percent).
  • Households reporting affordability as the major barrier to subscribing to broadband service cited both the fixed cost of purchasing a computer and the recurring monthly subscription costs as important factors. Our analysis of the expanded CPS data suggests that work, school, public libraries, and someone else’s house were all popular alternatives for Internet access among those with no home broadband Internet access service. Not surprisingly, individuals with no home broadband Internet access service relied on locations such as public libraries (20 percent) or other people’s houses (12 percent) more frequently than those who used broadband Internet access service at home.
The study also describes the $7 billion Recovery Act funding directed towards broadband in the U.S. Be sure to check out the complete study document linked here.

No comments: