Connectivity Varies Across U.S. Metros and Demographic Groups
An estimated 78.1 percent of people in U.S. households had a high-speed Internet connection last year, according to a new report released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, digital divides exist among the nation’s metropolitan areas and demographic groups.
These statistics come from the American Community Survey, which collected data on this topic for the first time in 2013 and is the largest survey used to examine computer and Internet use in the U.S.
Although most Americans have access to computers and high-speed Internet, differences in high-speed Internet use were as large as 25 percentage points between certain age and race groups, while divides between specific income and educational attainment groups were as large as 45 percentage points. In addition, among the nation’s metro areas, Boulder, Colo., had one of the highest rates of high-speed Internet use at 96.9, while Laredo, Texas, had one of the lowest rates at 69.3 percent.
The report released this week, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013, includes analysis of household computer ownership and Internet use by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, income and education. It covers areas of the country with populations larger than 65,000.
The report shows that 75.2 percent of metropolitan area households reported high-speed Internet use, compared with 63.1 percent of nonmetropolitan households. In addition, 85.1 percent of metropolitan households reported owning a computer, compared with 76.5 percent of nonmetro households.
“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,” said Thom File, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author. “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.”
Some states, such as California, Florida and Washington, had a variety of high and low performing areas within their borders, often very near one another. California, for example, had rates of computer ownership and high-speed Internet use above the national average. However, certain parts of the state, specifically those in the San Francisco Bay Area (including Napa, San Francisco and San Jose), had high percentages of computer ownership and high-speed Internet use, while metropolitan areas in the nearby Central Valley (including Bakersfield, Fresno and Hanford) had significantly lower estimates on both indicators.
Bay Area Metropolitan Areas
Central Valley Metropolitan Areas
Demographics of Computer and Internet Users
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, at 78.5 percent.
- 63.6 percent reported a hand-held computer (smartphone or other hand-held wireless computer).
In addition to the report released this week, a series of detailed and profile tables about computer ownership and Internet use are available on the Census Bureau’s website at census.gov.
As part of the 2008 Broadband Data Improvement Act, Congress mandated that the Census Bureau begin asking about computer and Internet use in the American Community Survey. Federal agencies will use these statistics to measure the nationwide development of broadband networks and to allocate resources intended to increase access to broadband technologies, particularly among groups with traditionally low levels of access. State and local governments will use these statistics for similar purposes, and businesses and nonprofits will use the information to better serve their communities as well.
As the part of the Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) maintains theNational Broadband Map, a public database of information on broadband Internet availability in the United States.
In addition to information on computer usage and Internet access, the Census Bureau also provides detailed information on U.S. computer manufacturing, Internet service providers, computer sales and repair, and related business data in the economic census . Detailed data on computer imports and exports are also available in our international trade statistics.