Digital Divide Persists Even as Broadband Adoption Grows

New report from Dept. of Commerce shows that the 'have nots' - continue to have not when it comes to Internet.

Broadband Internet adoption has skyrocketed over the last decade in the U.S, though adoption hasn't been entirely evenly spread across all Americans. That's the conclusion from a new Exploring the Digital Nation report from The Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The report is a followup to one released in 2010 that came to a similar set of conclusions about the so-called digital divide between those that have broadband Internet access and those that do not.

Overall, broadband adoption in the U.S. continues to rise.

The report found that in 2010, 68 percent of U.S. households had broadband Internet, an increase of 4 percent over the 2009 figure. Over the last decade, home-based broadband Internet adoption has soared from only 9 percent to 2001 to 68 percent in 2010.

The study also found a corresponding decline in dial-up Internet access with only three percent using dial-up in 2010, a decline from the five percent figure reported in 2009.

In terms of how American households are accessing the Internet, the report found that 58 percent accessed the Internet by a personal computer only (including desktops and notebook computers). 17 percent of Americans have a handheld device and a personal computer, while only 2 percent have only a handheld mobile device. According to the report, 23 percent of U.S. households do not have a computer.

"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 Lawrence E. Strickling in a statement.

The report also found that broadband adoption also differs by income levels. For households with incomes of $100,000 or more there was a 93 percent adoption rate for broadband. In contrast, only 43 percent of U.S. households that had income of $25,000 or less had broadband.

There is also digital divide that spans ethnicity and race as well. According to the report, eighty-one percent of Asian households and 72 percent of white households had broadband at home. In contrast only 57 percent of Hispanic households and 55 percent of black households had broadband.

Broadband adoption also varied by state. The lowest broadband adoption in the U.S. is in Mississippi at 52 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, Utah was tops in the nation with 80 broadband adoption.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: Web, broadband, digital divide, Internet access

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