Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rural areas still lag behind cities, suburbs in broadband Internet access at home and at work

Less than a third of rural American homes have high-speed Internet service, or broadband, while half those in metropolitan areas do, according to the latest survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Only 31 percent of rural homes have broadband, compared to 52 percent in urban areas and 49 percent in suburbs. Rural households are gaining on their metro counterparts, but slowly. "Between 2006 and 2007, high-speed Internet usage among rural adults grew by 24 percent, versus 18 percent for urban residents and just 7 percent for suburbanites," Pew's report said. "Broadband penetration among rural residents in early 2007 is now roughly equal to broadband penetration among urban/suburban residents in early 2005."

The rural-urban disparity is not quite so great in workplaces, on which some rural residents rely for Internet connections. In rural areas, 38 percent said they have access to a high-speed connection at their place of work. For suburban and urban residents, the workplace-access figure is 55 percent.

One reason for the rural-urban broadband gap is lower Internet usage of any kind among rural residents. "Internet usage in rural areas also trails the national average; 60 percent of rural adults use the Internet from any location, compared with the national average of 71 percent," the report said. (Read the report)

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