According to the most recent U.S. Census data, 62 million households in the United States have an Internet-connected computer. That means just over half, 55 percent of homes have relatively easy access to the net, including e-mail and web resources. This data, current as of 2003, shows a five percent increase in connected computers, compared to the 2001 data, and more than triple the 18 percent connectivity rate reported in 1997.
Consumer web use favors affluent, young, and educated users. Almost all, 95 percent, of households with a combined income over $100,000 annually have at least one computer, and 92 percent of this demographic are online. By comparison, households earning under $40,000 have a 41 percent online access rate, still a significant number.
Popular consumer online activities include gathering news, weather, and sports data; seeking government and health information, and job searching.
The most wired areas of the country were in the west, and the least wired were in the south.
According to a report released in October 2005 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 22 percent of American adults has never used the internet or email and does not live in a wired household; yet, 53 percent of home internet users has broadband access. The distinction usage through broadband and lower-technology dial-up service is significant.
Interestingly, 62 percent, about two-thirds, of households with college graduates have broadband access to the net, while only 44 percent of households of high school graduates have broadband service. The Pew Internet & American Life project also reported that access speed is a greater predictor of online behavior than is the user’s experience. Broadband users are more likely to engage in a broad range of online activities than dial-up users. I have found this true, for myself, even within the broadband usage range. When I have a 6 Mbps or faster connection I am more likely to frequently maintain backups of my websites, download software updates, and participate in other bandwidth-intensive activities. When I connect to slower, yet still broadband, networks, such as residential DSL networks, I’m more likely to restrict my online activities to e-mail and web reading.
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Digital Divisions (Pew Internet & American Life Project)