Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Poll: 58% of rural Americans say lack of access to high-speed internet is a problem; 24% say it's a major problem

Pew Research Center chart; click on the image to enlarge it.
It's been long known that lack of access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet hurts rural areas, but a Pew Researcher Center survey quantifies it: 24 percent of rural adults surveyed say access to broadband is a major problem in their local community, and 34 percent say it's a minor problem. Altogether, that means 58 percent of rural Americans see lack of access to broadband as a problem, according to the Feb. 26-March 11 survey.

"Concerns about access to high-speed internet are shared by rural residents from various economic backgrounds. For example, 20 percent of rural adults whose household income is less than $30,000 a year say access to high-speed internet is a major problem, but so do 23 percent of rural residents living in households earning $75,000 or more annually," Monica Anderson reports for Pew. "These sentiments are also similar between rural adults who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree and those with lower levels of educational attainment."

Rural adults aged 50 to 64 were more likely than other age groups to see lack of access top broadband as a problem. There is a racial angle, perhaps driven by income: 31 percent of non-white rural respondents believed lack of access is a problem compared to 21 percent of whites.

"Beyond lower home broadband adoption rates, adults in rural areas also are less likely to own mobile devices or to use the internet," anderson reports. "While around two-thirds of rural Americans have a smartphone, those shares rise to around eight in 10  among those living in cities (83 percent) or the suburbs (78 percent), according to Center data. At the same time, some rural Americans do not use the internet in any capacity: 22 percent of adults living in a rural area say they never go online, a share that is more than double that among urban or suburban residents."

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