WASHINGTON – Sixty-four percent of U.S. households have broadband access, up from 51 percent in 2007, according to new data from a U.S. Census Bureau survey. Though nearly all demographic groups have had rising rates of Internet use since 2007, historic disparities remain. In urban areas, lack of broadband access is largely a problem of affordability – residents either can’t afford computers or can’t afford broadband. In rural areas, broadband is often not available at any price.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which commissioned the October 2009 survey, released the report taking a first look at the survey data. NTIA chief Lawrence Strickling says the findings are encouraging, but not good enough. “A significant portion of the population is still not online,” he says, adding that broadband stimulus funding and other Administration initiatives will help close the gap.  

Highlights of the report include:

  • Broadband Internet access at home continues to grow: 64 percent of households have broadband access compared with 51 percent in October 2007.
  • Notable disparities between demographic groups continue: People with low incomes, seniors, minorities, the less-educated, nonfamily households, and the nonemployed tend to lag behind other groups in home broadband use.
  • While the digital divide between urban and rural areas has lessened since 2007, it remains significant. In 2009, two-thirds (66 percent) of urban households and only 54 percent of rural households accessed broadband Internet service, compared with 54 percent of urban households and 39 percent of rural households in 2007.
  • Overall, the two most commonly cited reasons for not having broadband Internet access at home are that it is perceived as not needed (38 percent) or too expensive (26 percent). Besides these value and affordability concerns, Americans also cite the lack of a computer as a major factor.
  • In rural America, lack of broadband availability is a more frequently-cited major reason for non-adoption than in urban areas (11 percent vs. 1 percent).
  • Americans who do not use the Internet in any location most commonly cite insufficient value, or no need, as the reason.  In contrast,  households that have dial-up access to the Internet as well as households without any type of Internet access at home most frequently cite cost as the reason they do not have broadband access at home.
  • Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 30 percent of all persons do not use the Internet in any location.

A full copy of the report is available at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2010/NTIA_internet_use_report_Feb2010.pdf