broadbandA bit slow in coming they may be, but the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey series of reports provide perhaps the most comprehensive and granular view of Internet connectivity and usage across the country. Released November 13, Census’s latest ACS reveals that 78.1 percent of U.S. households had high-speed Internet connections in 2013.

Indicative of a persistent digital divide, large differences exist among metro areas and demographic groups, however, Census summarizes in a press release.

Most Americans have computers and high-speed Internet access, yet the latest ACS found differences as large as 25 percentage points between particular age and race groups. Differences between specific income and educational attainment groups were as wide as 45 percentage points.

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Examining Internet connectivity among metro areas, Boulder, Colorado had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9 percent. Laredo, Texas had one of the lowest, at 69.3 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s “Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013.”

Metro Households With Fast Internet
High-speed Internet use across U.S. metro areas came in at 75.2 percent for 2013, while that for non-metro areas was 63.1 percent. Furthermore, 85.1 percent of metro households reported owning a computer as compared to 76.5 percent of non-metro households.

Data from states such as California, Florida and Washington revealed “a variety of high and low performing areas within their borders, often very near one another.” Overall, California had rates of computer ownership and high-speed Internet connectivity above the national average. While certain parts of the state, such as those in the San Francisco Bay Area, had high percentages for both indicators, metro areas in the nearby Central Valley had estimates that were significantly lower.

“In the past we’ve only been able to look at computer and Internet use patterns down to the state level, but with this new research we can actually start to understand what’s happening in American cities,” Thom File, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author, was quoted in a press release.

“As computing technologies continue to evolve and become more central in American life, it’s increasingly important to understand where disparities and divides exist across the country. These new statistics allow us to do exactly that.”

Added Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson, “These new statistics show how the American Community Survey gives communities the information they need on both computer and Internet access for their residents.

“As the Census Bureau continues to move more surveys online to reduce respondent burden, these statistics inform us of areas that have high and low Internet use. These statistics also provide the information communities and federal agencies need to make decisions to improve and expand broadband Internet access for all Americans.”

Demographic Differences
Other highlights of the Census Bureau’s 2013 ACS’s report on high-speed Internet connectivity and usage include:

Computer ownership and Internet use were most common in the following types of households:

  • Homes with relatively young householders: 92.5 percent of homes with a householder age 35 to 44 reported owning a computer, while 82.5 percent reported Internet use;
  • In Asian households and white non-Hispanic households: 86.6 percent of Asian households and 77.4 percent of white households reported Internet use;
  • In households with high incomes: 98.1 percent of households making $150,000 or more had a computer, while 94.9 percent reported Internet use;
  • Householders with high educational attainment: 95.5 percent of homes with a householder with at least a bachelor’s degree had a computer, while 90.1 percent reported Internet use.

Type of Internet Connection

  • The most common household connection type was cable modem (42.8 percent), followed by mobile broadband (33.1 percent) and digital subscriber line (DSL) (21.2 percent);
  • About a quarter of all households had no paid Internet subscription (25.6 percent);
  • Only 1.0 percent of all households reported connecting to the Internet using only a dial-up connection.

Types of Computer Ownership

  • The most common household computer ownership was a desktop or laptop;
  • 63.6 percent reported a hand-held computer (smartphone or other hand-held wireless computer).

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