The NTIA has issued Digital Nation II – a follow up to February’s Digital Nation report. Amongst the findings:
- the percentage of households that connect to the Internet using broadband grew to 63.5 percent in 2009 from 9.2 percent in 2001
- 65.9 percent of urban households subscribed to broadband in 2009, compared with 51 percent of rural households.
- 94.1 percent of households with income exceeding $100,000 subscribed to broadband in 2009, compared with 35.8 percent of households with income of less than $25,000.
- 84.5 percent of households with at least one college degree subscribed to broadband last year, compared with 28.8 percent of households without a high school degree.
- 77.3 percent of Asian-American households and 68 percent of non-Hispanic white households subscribed to broadband last year, compared with 49.4 percent of African-American households and 47.9 percent of Hispanic households.
- 38 percent of Americans who don’t have broadband at home say they don’t subscribe because they don’t need it, while 26 percent say it’s too expensive and only 4 percent say it’s not available where they live.
Notably, the analysis discovered a gap of 10 percentage points in broadband use between whites and blacks and a gap of 14 percentage points between whites and Hispanics even after controlling for socio-economic factors.
Although the data do not provide an explanation for these numbers, Rebecca Blank, under secretary for Economic Affairs, believes it could reflect limited exposure to the Internet among certain racial 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.
Lawrence Strickling, head of the NTIA, stressed that one key challenge for policymakers lies in convincing Americans who are not online of the benefits of broadband.