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Feds: 64% of Americans have broadband access

While 64% of Americans have broadband access, and the majority of Americans who don’t have it say they don’t want it, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to closing the gap in the digital divide, according to the federal government, which said it just completed the most comprehensive survey on the issue.
“Americans who lack broadband Internet access are cut off from many educational and employment opportunities,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “The learning from today’s report is that there is no simple ‘one size fits all’ solution to closing the digital divide. A combination of approaches makes sense, including targeted outreach programs to rural and minority populations emphasizing the benefits of broadband. NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is helping to address this challenge, but we are hopeful today’s report will be useful to the larger community working to close the gap.”
The survey was conducted across 54,000 households by the U.S. Census Bureau and data compiled by the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. While it was no surprise that higher incomes and education are closely associated with broadband access, those two areas were not sole factors, the survey found. Likewise, differences in socio-economic attributes did not explain the gap associated with race and ethnicity. (Broadband Internet adoption was higher among White households.) Urban residents were more likely to adopt broadband Internet than rural residents, and younger people were more likely to use home broadband Internet than older people. “Internet non-users reported lack of need or interest as their primary reason for not having broadband at home,” the government said. “This group accounted for two-thirds of those who don’t have broadband at home. In contrast, households that did not use the Internet specifically at home but did use the Internet elsewhere ranked affordability as the primary deterrent to home broadband adoption. This group represented almost one-fourth of those who don’t have broadband at home.”
The survey did not separate wireless broadband access or satellite broadband access, but included all forms, whether wired or wireless.
“One sector making enormous strides toward effectively bridging the digital divide, however, is wireless,” said Jonathan Spalter, chairman of the Mobile Future Coalition, a pro-market advocacy-based group formed in 2008. “According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics lead in both cell phone ownership and wireless Internet usage in the United States. In other words, when it comes to accessing the Internet from a mobile device, those often on the wrong side of the digital divide are actually leading the way. Clearly, much work remains to be done before we can declare victory in closing the digital divide but by continuing a light touch regulatory approach that promotes innovation, investment and competition, the road ahead is looking a lot more connected.”

ABOUT AUTHOR

Tracy Ford
Tracy Ford
Former Associate Publisher and Executive Editor, RCR Wireless NewsCurrently HetNet Forum Director703-535-7459 tracy.ford@pcia.com Ford has spent more than two decades covering the rapidly changing wireless industry, tracking its changes as it grew from a voice-centric marketplace to the dynamic data-intensive industry it is today. She started her technology journalism career at RCR Wireless News, and has held a number of titles there, including associate publisher and executive editor. She is a winner of the American Society of Business Publication Editors Silver Award, for both trade show and government coverage. A graduate of the Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Ford holds a B.S. degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis on public relations.

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