Rural Americans Adopt Broadband, But Gap Remains

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The latest survey of broadband use finds that rural residents are adopting this technology quickly, but the gap between rural and urban remains.


Pew Internet & American Life Project, but rural communities still lag far behind urban regions in the spread of fast Internet connections.

The percentage of rural residents with broadband connections increased from 38 percent in 2008 to 46 percent this year, a 21 percent increase in just one year. In 2006, just 25 percent of those living in rural America had home broadband.

But rural America still lags behind the rest of the country in broadband adoption. The gap between rural and urban use of home broadband remains unchanged since last year. (The 20 percentage point gap between rural and urban adoption of broadband found in 2006 has been consistent in all the Pew surveys, even as increasing numbers of people adopt broadband.) Rural residence  remains one of the strongest predictors that a household will lack broadband access.

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The Pew Internet project conducts regular polls of how — and how many — Americans are using the web. In this survey, Pew surveyed 2,253 Americans, including 561 people with cell phone numbers. 

This year’s survey showed that most groups that have lagged in adopting broadband in the past made significant progress in the last year. For instance, last year only 42% of those households with $20,000 to $30,000 in annual income had broadband. In this survey, Pew found that 53 percent of this relatively low-income group now had broadband.

African-Americans, however, experienced a second consecutive year of slow growth in broadband adoption. This year, 46 percent of African Americans had broadband at home, up only slightly from 43 percent in 2008 and 40 percent in 2007.