US snapshot of broadband world finds disparity and dial-up

Census data points to increased broadband use, but social, economic differences exist

Almost seven of 10 households in the United States subscribe to broadband service while 68% of American households used broadband Internet in 2010, up from 64% in 2009 and only 3% of households still rely on dial-up access to the Internet in 2010, down from 5 percent in 2009.

Those were but a few of the interesting facts found in a snapshot of broadband use in the US released this week by the Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

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The report "Exploring the Digital Nation," analyzes data collected from 54,300 households conducted by the US Census Bureau in October 2010.

Other findings included:

--About  80% of American households had at least one Internet user, whether inside or outside the home and regardless of technology type used to access the Internet.

--Cable modems and DSL were the leading broadband technologies for home Internet access, with 32% and 23% of households, respectively, using these services.

--Households with lower incomes and less education, as well as blacks, Hispanics, people with disabilities and rural residents, were less likely to have Internet service at home.

--Eighty-one percent of Asian households and 72% of white households had broadband at home, compared with 57% of Hispanic households and 55% of black households.

--Seventy percent of urban households had broadband at home, compared with 57% of rural households. 

--Households with school-age children were more likely to have broadband at home (78%) than the national rate. Older householders, particularly those ages 65 and older (45%), were less likely to have broadband at home.

--Less than half (43%) of households with annual incomes below $25,000 had broadband access at home, while 93% of households with incomes exceeding $100,000 had broadband.

--Socio-economic differences do not explain the broadband adoption gap. For example, after accounting for socio-economic and geographic factors, black and Hispanic households still lag white households in broadband adoption by 11% points, though the gap between Asian and white households disappears.

--After accounting for socio-economic and demographic factors, rural households still lag urban households in broadband adoption by 5 percentage points.

--The main reasons cited for not having Internet access at home were a lack of interest or need (47%), the expense (24%), and the lack of an adequate computer (15%).

--Not surprisingly, individuals without broadband service at home relied on locations such as public libraries (20%) or other people's houses (12%) to go online.

--Between 2001 and 2010, broadband Internet use at home, regardless of technology type, rose from 9 to 68% of households.

--Between 1997 and 2010, Internet use among households, regardless of technology type, rose from 19 to 71%.

--More than three quarters (77%) of American households had a computer at home in 2010, up from 62 % in 2003.

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