Income Is The Deciding Factor On Who Gets Online In The US


While Internet adoption has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years, we still have a long way to go in the U.S. As it turns out, Internet connectivity is directly impacted by income, as illustrated on a new map released by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

The new report makes use of data from the 2013 American Community Survey. The map carves the U.S. into distinct areas of 100,000 people, finding that between 80 and 90 percent of the population have Internet access in wealthier areas, while in low-income areas, only around 50 percent are connected.

Perhaps most striking is that income has a greater impact on Internet connectivity than age. Someone over the age of 90 who lives in a higher-income area is more likely to be connected than someone of any age in the lowest-income areas.

Of course, income isn't the only deciding factor. Urban areas, as expected, have higher Internet adoption rates than rural areas, as seen on the map in large patches of low connectivity. This, however, is not as big of a factor as income — Montana and North Dakota, which are both very sparsely populated, have rather high connectivity rates.

Education also plays a role in connectivity, with many remaining unconnected simply because they're unfamiliar with the technology and how to use it.

Income and education are the main reasons for the digital divide, so getting everyone online will be a matter of making Internet access more affordable, and raising awareness of how to use the Internet. More competition among Internet service providers could help cut down on costs, while helping schools get online and teaching children about the Internet will help with education.

The news comes as President Obama is preparing to announce a program that will help low-income households get online. The program is launching in 27 cities around the U.S. and has pledged to bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of schools by 2017.

Four of the cities have access to Google Fiber, with Google set to provide free Internet access to those in selected public housing and community organizations.

The plan is part of the White House's broader strategy to expand the technology infrastructure in the U.S. the same way that it expands things like roads and bridges. Ideally, this will boost the U.S. in global rankings for broadband Internet adoption, up from its current spot in 16th place.

Via: The Verge

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