As part of the government’s research in preparation for its National Broadband Plan, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a report about broadband usage in the United States.

The report is entitled “Digital Nation – 21st Century America’s Progress Toward Universal Broadband Internet Access.”

The findings are based on data collected in October 2009 through the U.S. Census Bureau, with a sample size of approximately 54,000 households and 129,000 citizens.

The report said in October 2009, 63.5 percent (75.8 million) of U. S. households used a high-speed Internet service. This represented a 25 percent increase from two years earlier (50.8 percent in October 2007).

Classifying by household type, married couples with children younger than 18 years old surpassed all other household groups for broadband use at home.

In terms of gender, there was nominal difference with males at 59.3 percent, compared to females at 59.0 percent.

However, there were some substantial disparities between ethnic groups. Asian non-Hispanics led all other groups with 67.3 percent using broadband at home, with White non-Hispanics second in usage (65.7); followed by Black non-Hispanics (45.9); Native Americans (42.6) and Hispanics (39.7).

Americans in rural areas tend to have lower broadband adoption rates than their demographic counterparts in urban areas.

However, the gap between city mouse and country mouse has narrowed in the past two years. In 2007, 53.8 percent of households in urban areas were broadband users compared to 38.8 percent of rural households. In 2009, those numbers were 65.9 percent for urban versus 54.1 percent for rural.

U.S. households without high-speed Internet service totaled 36.5 percent in October 2009, with a larger proportion in rural areas.

The top reasons for no broadband access at home were “don’t need” (37.8 percent), “too expensive” (26.3 percent), “no computer or inadequate computer” (8.3 percent). Only 3.6 percent cited “broadband not available” as their reason for no broadband access at home.

However, “not available” accounts for more than 10 percent of the main reasons for non-use in rural areas but accounts for only about one percent in urban areas.

Some of the other results were rather obvious:

  • The highest broadband use at home was by those who were most affluent and the lowest use was by those persons living in households with $15,000 annual family income or less.
  • By age brackets, persons 18-24 years old exhibited the greatest broadband use at home, while those 55+ used broadband at home the least.
  • With householders 25 years and older, 84 percent of those with college degrees had broadband access at home, while only 28 percent of those with less than a high school diploma had such access.


–Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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