Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Have Access to High-Speed Internet

Connectivity Varies Across U.S. Metros and Demographic Groups
      An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.
       These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.
       Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.
       The report released today, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.
       “These new statistics show how the American Community Survey gives communities the information they need on both computer and Internet access for their residents,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “As the Census Bureau continues to move more surveys online to reduce respondent burden, these statistics inform us of areas that have high and low Internet use. These statistics also provide the information communities and federal agencies need to make decisions to improve and expand broadband Internet access for all Americans.”
 Metropolitan Areas
       The report shows that 75.2 percent of metropolitan area households reported high-speed Internet use, compared with 63.1 percent of nonmetropolitan households. In addition, 85.1 percent of metropolitan households reported owning a computer, compared with 76.5 percent of nonmetro households.
       “In the past we’ve only been able to look at computer and Internet use patterns down to the state level, but with this new research we can actually start to understand what’s happening in American cities,” said Thom File, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author. “As computing technologies continue to evolve and become more central in American life, it’s increasingly important to understand where disparities and divides exist across the country. These new statistics allow us to do exactly that.”
       Some states, such as California, Florida and Washington, had a variety of high and low performing areas within their borders, often very near one another. California, for example, had rates of computer ownership and high-speed Internet use above the national average. However, certain parts of the state, specifically those in the San Francisco Bay Area (including Napa, San Francisco and San Jose), had high percentages of computer ownership and high-speed Internet use, while metropolitan areas in the nearby Central Valley (including Bakersfield, Fresno and Hanford) had significantly lower estimates on both indicators.

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