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NTIA: Broadband Use Up, Gap Remains

11/14/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households
used the Internet in 2010, up from 64% in 2009. That is according
to a new study released last week by the Department
of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information
Administration, which is administering billions of dollars
in government broadband-stimulus money.

Cable continued to be the connection of choice, with 32%
of homes using cable modems versus 23% for digital subscriber
line. The study was announced the same day the FCC
disclosed plans to announce that cable operators and nonprofits are launching an effort to boost broadband adoption
among lower-income homes with kids.

The top factor for not subscribing to broadband, and by a
wide margin, wasn’t cost (24%) or lack of a computer (15%).
Instead, it was lack of interest or need (47%). that suggested
the digital divide, which will not be bridged simply by providing
low-cost computers or service.

About 80% of U.S. households had at least one Internet
user, said NTIA, including both inside and outside the home.

There continues to be a digital divide, NTIA said, but with
Asian households leading all others in home broadband
with 81%. White households were next at 72%, followed by
57% for Hispanics and 55% for black households.

There also continues to be an urban-rural divide, with
70% of urban households having broadband versus 57% of
rural homes.

Income continues to be a big factor, with only 43% of
households with incomes of less than $25,000 having broadband
access at home. But the study also found that even
when socioeconomic and geographic factors are removed,
rural broadband uptake still lags that of urban areas, and
adoption in Hispanic and African-American households still
lags that of white households.

The survey is based on data from an Internet use supplement
survey of about 54,300 households conducted by the
U.S. Census Bureau in October 2010.

“To get a good job, you often need access to the Internet
and online skills. But nearly one in three American households
do not subscribe to broadband service,” said NTIA
administrator Larry Strickling. “NTIA’s broadband grants
program is helping to address this challenge by expanding
public computer centers and providing Americans with the
training needed to participate in the Internet economy. The
lessons learned from these broadband projects and today’s
report will help the larger community working to close the
digital divide.”

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