Broadband access in U.S. still mainly for the well-off, Pew finds

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A decade after broadband Internet became widely available, a stark digital divide still separates American citizens by income, according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Nearly 90% of U.S. households making more than $75,000 annually have broadband connections, the study found. For households making between $30,000 and $50,000, the number is closer to 65%. And of those homes making $30,000 or less, only 40% have high-speed Internet.

The federal poverty level for 2009 was $22,050 for a four-person household.

The gap in broadband adoption aligns with a number of other differences in the ways income brackets use technology, Pew noted.


Among them is that 74% of the highest earners get news from online sources, while only 34% of the lowest earners do. Higher earners are substantially more likely to own and use cellphones, with 20 percentage points separating the highest and lowest brackets. The survey even found that 12% of more affluent Americans own electronic reading devices, compared with 3% of the lowest bracket.

The general home broadband adoption rate, as of 2010, was about 66%, according to another study by Pew. That’s up from 33% in 2005, and just 3% in 2000.


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-- David Sarno