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NTIA: Broadband Use Up, Gap Remains

The number of U.S. households that used the Internet was 68% in 2010, up from 64% in 2009.

That is according to a new study released Wednesday by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is administering billions of dollars in government broadband stimulus money.

Cable continued to be the connection of choice, with 32% using cable modems vs. 23% for DSL. The study was announced the same day the FCC plans to announce that cable operators and nonprofits are launching an effort to boost broadband adoption among lower income homes with kids.

The top factor for not subscribing to broadband, and by a wide margin, was not cost (24%) or lack of a computer (15%), but instaed lack of interest or need (47%). that suggested the digital divide will not be bridged simply by providing low-cost computers or service.

Approximately 80% of U.S. Households had at least one Internet user, said NTIA, including both inside and outside the home.

There continued to be a digital divide, said NTIA, but with Asian households leading all others in home broadband with 81%. White households were next at 72%, followed by 57% for Hispanics and 55% for Black households.

There also continues to be an urban/rural divide, with 70% of urban households having broadband vs. 57% rural.

Income continues to be a big factor, with only 43% of households with incomes less than $25,000 have broadband access at home.

But the study also found that even when socioeconomic and geographic factors are removed, rural uptake still lags urban, and Hispanics and Blacks still lag White households.

The survey is based on data from an Internet Use supplement survey of about 54,300 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2010.

"To get a good job, you often need access to the Internet and online skills. But nearly one in three American households do not subscribe to broadband service," said NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling. "NTIA's broadband grants program is helping to address this challenge by expanding public computer centers and providing Americans with the training needed to participate in the Internet economy. The lessons learned from these broadband projects and today's report will help the larger community working to close the digital divide, and we encourage researchers to use the survey data for further analysis."