By Jorge Bauermeister – November 11, 2010
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A newly released U.S. Department of Commerce study entitled Exploring the Digital Nation: Home Broadband Internet Adoption in the United States finds that while broadband adoption is growing dramatically, disparities exist among low-income and minority households. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Economics and Statistics Administration, both of which contributed to the development of the study, states in the Northeast and West have greater broadband connectivity than states in the South and Midwest. This assessment was determined through the study’s broad survey of about 54,000 U.S. households.
While virtually all categories and demographics observed in the study did in fact contribute to overall growth in broadband adoption, income disparity was a category that illustrated a direct correlation between the haves and have-nots in broadband adoption with 94% of families with an income over $100,000 having access to broadband in 2009 and only 36% of households with an annual income less than $25,000 possessing a broadband connection. Additionally, that study shows that rural areas also suffer from lower broadband adoption rates with only 51% reporting having a broadband connection in 2009, compared to a 66% adoption rate for urban households. The study also found adoption rates to be higher among White households than among black and Hispanic households. However, the report suggests that socio-economic attributes do not explain the entire gap associated with race and ethnicity.