Internet connectivity rates in the U.S. contextualized
Internet access is a utility, and like other utilities, similarly to electricity and running water, many have come to assume that everyone has it. In an increasingly interconnected, digital and globalized world, the Internet seems to be everywhere. Recent studies, however, shed light on where the Internet is, or is not, around the U.S. and the world at large.
Internet connections in the U.S.
USA Today recently reported that 21 percent of U.S. homes still do not have access to the Internet. Of the 79 percent that are connected,1 percent still rely on dial-up connections, but the vast majority use DSL and cable modems, according to the Census Bureau.
As expected, lower-income homes do not have as high a connectivity rate as middle and upper-class homes. The variance in connectivity, however, is significant. Approximately 82 percent of households with an average income of $75,000 or more have an Internet subscription, compared to less than 50 percent of households earning $20,000 or below.
According to a 2013 American Community Survey, 4 percent of Americans access the Internet without a subscription, reported USA Today. The survey also found that while over half of low-income homes did not have an Internet subscription, only 6 percent claimed the reason was affordability. The most cited reason was "just not interested," for 21 percent of those polled. The survey also found that whites and Asians showed the highest rates of connectivity; and blacks, Hispanics and American Indians showed the lowest rates.
According to research conducted by the Census Bureau, 84 percent of Americans now have a computer in their home. Interestingly, only 10 years ago, eight percent of homes had a computer, which speaks to how fast technology has evolved over the past decade. Additionally, 70 percent of households have a tablet, handheld computer or smartphone, most of which, are in addition to a home computer. The largest variance was observed across age groups. Over 90 percent of people under 65 own a computer versus 71 percent for people 65 and older.
The Internet in Asia
According to the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations information-technology agency, approximately 45 percent of the world's three billion Internet users are in Asia. In China alone, over 500 million people, more than the current population of the U.S., go online using smartphones. Additionally, in the Asia-Pacific region, the number of social media users is anticipated to reach one billion by the end of the year, reported the Wall Street Journal.