While 75 percent of Americans reported using the Internet in July 2015, the longstanding disparity between urban and rural users persists and has emerged in the adoption of new technologies such as the smartphone and social media, according to the latest computer and Internet use data collected for NTIA. This suggests that in spite of advances in both policy and technology, the barriers to Internet adoption existing in rural communities are complex and stubborn.
In particular, Americans who were otherwise less likely to use the Internet—such as those with lower levels of family income or education—faced an even larger disadvantage when living in a rural area. Conversely, rural individuals with higher levels of education or family income did not have significantly lower adoption rates than their urban counterparts, according to the data. The data comes from NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
While the digital divide appears to be closing for some demographic communities, the gap between rural and urban populations has remained remarkably consistent for at least as long as NTIA has been gathering data on Internet use. In 1998, 28 percent of Americans living in rural areas used the Internet, compared to 34 percent of those in urban areas. Even as Internet use increased dramatically overall, a rural/urban gap remained in 2015, with 69 percent of rural residents reporting using the Internet, versus 75 percent of urban residents. This data indicates a fairly constant 6-9 percentage point gap between rural and urban communities’ Internet use over time.
New: NTIA Data and Analysis on “State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide”
Filed by August 10, 2016on