Pew Says Digital Divide Continues

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new study with some startling facts regarding the Internet, who’s using it and how they’re accessing it.

A number of facts stand out. 70% of white Americans use the Internet versus 57% of black Americans. 29% of those who’ve not graduated from high school have access versus 61% of high school graduates and 89% of college graduates.

The other number that glares is that 22% of American adults say they’ve never used the internet or email and do not live in internet-connected households. This number only dropped a point from the 23% of adults last year who didn’t have access.

One point the study concentrated on was the high-speed connection being the next aspect of the digital divide. The problem is definitely a socio-economic one as 66% of households earning $75,000 or more a year have high-speed Internet access vs. 21% of households making less than $30,000 a year having high-speed access.

They stated that overall, 53% of internet users now have high-speed access at home, up from the 21% in 2002. The groups who lagged in adopting the internet now lag in access speeds. They pointed out those with less education, less income and over 65 are much less likely to have broadband than those with that are younger and have a higher socio-economic status.

To put things in perspective, about 137 million people or 63% of the American population use the internet and 32% or 65 million don’t. Pew says this isn’t always by choice. While these numbers seem a little disheartening, the digital divide is shrinking.

The government and companies are working to make access available to everyone. Philadelphia recently inked a deal with Earthlink to set up a municipal wireless network, a public utility, for service at $20 a household and $10 for low income users.

And one cannot forget Google. They continue to generate buzz in their discussion of a free wireless network. As a matter of fact San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom already put out the word he’s looking for bids to put in a similar plan. Earthlink is talking to them, as are others like Google and even Cingular Wireless.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Pew Says Digital Divide Continues
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