With nearly seven out of every 10 households now subscribing to broadband services more Americans are using high-speed internet than ever before, yet disparities still exist along socio-economic, demographic and geographic lines, according to a new Census data report by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The report, “Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home,” found a strong correlation between broadband adoption and socio-economic factors such as income and education, but said the differences didn’t explain the entire gap in adoption rates along racial, ethnic and geographic lines.
“Closing the broadband adoption gap is a priority because Americans increasingly need 21st Century skills to succeed in today’s economy,” Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a release.
Sixty-eight percent of Americans households used broadband to access the Internet in their home in 2010, a four percent increase from 2009. Additionally, about nine percent of households access the Internet outside the home, bringing the total percentage of Americans online to about 80 percent.
Dial-up Internet access, which was the preferred way to get online until the mid 2000′s, continued it’s decline in popularity from five percent in 2009 to just three percent in 2010.
The NTIA, a co-author of the report, offers grant programs focused on the development and expansion of public computer labs and digital training. The agency hopes to increase access and skill sets of those without a computer in the home, but nearly half of the respondents in the study said they didn’t have Internet access in their home by choice, citing the lack of interest or need.
Overall, Internet access among households has increased nearly four fold since 1997, yet exact numbers vary largely by state and other indicators. Geographically, urban families are more likely to have high-speed internet access in their homes than their rural counterparts.
Demographically, Asian households had the highest adoption rates with 81 percent of homes reporting broadband access. White households came placed second with 72 percent, followed by Hispanic and black households at 57 and 55 percent respectively.
Also among the findings, households with young children were more likely to have broadband in the home (78 percent) and older households, particularly age 65 and older, were less likely to have access (45 percent).
In 2010, 71 percent of households were online compared to just 19 percent in 1997. While adoption rates continue to climb, more than a quarter of American household still don’t maintain Internet access in the home.
Dial-up Internet access, the most popular way to get online until the mid-2000′s, continued it’s downward trend with just three percent of households using it to connect in 2010, compared to five percent a year earlier.