Broadband internet grows in U.S.

The U.S. still faces a significant gap in residential broadband use that breaks down along incomes, education levels and other socioeconomic factors, even as subscriptions among American households overall grew sevenfold from 2001 to 2009.


What’s more, even when controlling for key socioeconomic characteristics, the U.S. continues to confront a racial gap in residential broadband use, with non-Latino white Americans and Asian- Americans more likely to go online using a high-speed connection than African-Americans and Latinos.

Those are some of the key conclusions of a new analysis of census data released Monday by the Commerce Department.

It found that the percentage of households that connect to the Internet using broadband grew to 63.5 percent in 2009 from 9.2 percent in 2001, reflecting increases across nearly all demographics.

The report — prepared by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Economics and Statistics Administration — is based on a census survey of about 54,000 households conducted in October 2009.

The new study provides some of the deepest analysis yet of broadband usage trends in the United States. And it is likely to help guide Congress and the Federal Communications Commission as they develop policies to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable high- speed Internet service.

The analysis, said Lawrence Strickling, head of the NTIA, shows that “there is no single solution” to make this happen.

One surprising finding of the new Commerce Department report is that African-Americans and Latinos lag behind in broadband adoption even when controlling for factors such as income and education. The data show a gap of 10 percentage points in broadband use between whites and blacks and a gap of 14 percentage points between whites and Latinos even after controlling for socioeconomic factors.

Although the data do not provide an explanation for these numbers, Rebecca Blank, undersecretary for Economic Affairs, believes it could reflect limited exposure to the Internet among certain groups.

“Internet usage relies on networks,” she said. “If the people around you don’t use the Internet, you will be less likely to use the Internet too.”

The margin of sampling error for the aggregate 2009 data is plus or minus 0.3 percentage points, with higher or lower errors for questions involving subgroups.

Colo. 10th in broadband use

Colorado has the nation’s 10th-highest use of broadband Internet, according to Commerce Department and census data.

In 2009, 69 percent of Colorado households had high- speed Internet connections.

Four states tied for the highest broadband use, at 73 percent: Alaska, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Utah.

A study commissioned last year by the state of Colorado showed that 97.5 percent of Colorado households have access to broadband, but not all of them subscribe to the service.

The study by the Colorado Office of Information Technology showed a wide gap between urban and rural areas for high-speed access.

While almost every household in metro Denver can subscribe to broadband service, 15 counties in rural areas of the state had availability of less than 80 percent.

Custer County in southern Colorado, with about 4,000 residents, had the lowest rate, at 56 percent.

broadband use

Via Denver Post