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Broadband use increases but socioeconomic gap persists

November 8, 2010 |  2:38 pm

More homes are using broadband than ever before, but the gap between the people who go online and those who don't has widened, according to an analysis of government data.

A wide gulf separates the two camps, which differ in income and education and on racial lines, according to a review of Census data by the Commerce Department, released Monday. 

Overall, broadband subscriptions boomed to 64% of households last year from 9% in 2001. But the percentage of whites and Asians online is far greater than blacks and Hispanics, according to analysis from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Economics and Statistics Administration.

More than three-quarters of Asian families and 68% of white ones have high-speed Internet. Less than half of black and Hispanic households do. Even when controlling for socioeconomic factors, a disparity remains.

The data come from a survey of 54,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau in 2009.
Broadband is much more popular in urban settings, where nearly 66% of homes have adopted it. Just over half of rural families have access.

Of those with income over $100,000, 94% go online, while less than 36% of households pulling in less than $25,000 do the same. The chasm is similar for those with at least one college degree –- 85% with broadband compared with less than 29% for families without a high school diploma.

About 38% of non-subscribers say they don’t need broadband at home. But 26% say the service is just too pricey. Age also plays a role, with users skewing young and more married couples with children hopping online than childless families.

-- Tiffany Hsu

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