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Rural Americans are less likely to use the Internet than people living in urban or suburban regions — and that is largely because they have less internet connections. Only 60 percent of rural residents use the Internet from any location, compared to the national average of 71 percent.
There is a large gap between rural and urban residents in the speed of their internet connection, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Living in a rural community is a bigger impediment to broadband connection than either race or income, according to Pew — and although rural Americans are quickly signing up for broadband connections, they are still two years behind the adoption rates in suburbia or the city. Only 38 percent of rural residents have a broadband Internet connection at either home or work, according to Pew. In the cities and suburbs, 55 percent have high-speed connections.
Geography, more than race, determines who has access to broadband Internet connections. According to Pew, African-Americans and whites with similar levels of education and income have similar levels of broadband use. But rural Americans of all races, incomes and education levels are significantly less likely to have speedy Internet connections.
Meanwhile, an attorney specializing in communications policy told the National Rural Assembly that rural residents in other countries had better access to faster broadband service. Mark Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the “great promise (of broadband service) is being realized in New Brunswick, Canada, and Tono, Japan, and in the farm country of south west Ireland. Great strides have been made in these countries since 2000. Great strides have not been made in Mississippi and Utah and Oklahoma and Kansas.”
In New Brunswick, Canada, Lloyd said, a combination of government support and private investment had built out broadband connections to 327 small communities. Now over 90 percent of New Brunswickers have broadband access — at speeds that exceed that of cable modems and DSL in the U.S.
Only 38 percent of rural Americans have broadband connection either at home or at work. In urban areas, 58 percent of the people have fast-speed connection at some point during the day, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Mark Lloyd, far left, testified to an informal meeting in Congress during the National Rural Assembly.
Photo: M.A. Pember
Dial up is out; broadband is in for most of America, according to Pew.