Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rural and urban Americans getting broadband at about the same rate, so rural still lags by 21 points

Rural Americans continue to adopt high-speed Internet service at increasing rates, but seem to be making relatively little headway in catching up to the rest of the country, which is likewise embracing broadband quickly.

This year's survey for the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 46 percent of rural Americans had broaband at home, compared to 67 percent in counties that are part of metropolitan areas. The figures last spring were 38 percent and 59 percent, respectively. The disparity lessened a bit; this year's rural figure was 68.7 percent of the non-rural, up from 64.4 percent last year. The figures are not certain, because the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2 percent.

Still, "Rural residence remains one of the strongest predictors that a household will lack broadband access," Bill Bishop notes for the Daily Yonder. The strongest demographic factor is lack of a high-school diploma, followed by age 65 or over, then rurality.

Bishop offers survey findings about rural broadband: "Rural residents are much more likely to have DSL connections than cable [and] are much more likely than those living in cities to use home dial-up to connect to the Internet. Only 12 percent of home broadband users live in rural America. However, 32 percent of home dial-up users live in rural communities." Just 7 percent of U.S. broadband users are on dial-up. "The two groups most likely to say they would like to switch from dial-up to broadband were parents with minor children and people in rural communities." (Read more) To read the Pew report, click here.

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