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The Obama administration is looking for new ways to bring access to the digital divide

It's hard to imagine any American without an Internet connection when people are often seen with their faces buried in smartphones, tablets and laptops. PCs and mobile devices have certainly become ubiquitous over the years, but for different reasons, not everyone is connected.

According to The New York Times, around 20 percent of American adults who do not have Internet connectivity in any way, whether it's at home, work, school or by a mobile device. 

A report titled "Exploring the Digital Nation," which was conducted by the Commerce Department and is based in 2011 data, shows the differences in Internet adoption rates throughout the U.S. based on parameters such as age, race, location, education and income. 

The report stated that only slightly more than half of Americans ages 65 and older use the Internet. Conversely, about 75 percent of those under 65 use the Internet. 

As far as race goes, 76 percent of white American households have Internet connectivity compared to 57 percent of African-American households. 

Internet use is lowest in the South, where Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas are the least connected.

Finally, the report shows that Internet use is more prevalent in households with an income of more than $50,000 a year and some college education. 

The NYT article states that many Americans are lost in the digital gap for several reasons, including high costs of broadband services, a lack of computer skills and disinterest in technology in general. 

The Obama administration worries that many Americans are being shut out of jobs, health care and education because of their lack of computer skills. Many job applications, health care applications and school work must be completed on computers, and the administration is looking to close that gap.

In 2009, President Barack Obama launched a $7 billion effort to expand broadband access to all Americans who lacked Internet connectivity. So far, it has proved pretty effective: about 50 percent of those infrastructure programs have been completed, and Internet availability has grown from 90 percent before the program to 98 percent today. 

Also, about $500 million of that $7 billion went toward helping people learn to use the Internet. It has brought half a million new household subscribers to Internet service.

While this has helped, the report claims that there needs to be more programs available for those who can't afford Internet service. Some already exist, such as Internet Essentials program, which offers broadband service for $10 a month to low-income families. It has been pretty effective with 220,000 households out of 2.6 million eligible homes in Comcast service areas signing up.

In 2011, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates partnered with former U.S. President Bill Clinton to bring Internet access to the digital divide. 

However, administration officials feel more progress could be made. 

Source: The New York Times

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Something doesn't make sense...
By kmmatney on 8/20/2013 3:20:35 PM , Rating: 3
The title of the report says 80% of Americans use the internet. Then it says "The report stated that only slightly more than half of Americans ages 65 and older use the Internet. Conversely, about 75 percent of those under 65 use the Internet." This would imply that the total internet usage would have to be below 75%...

By DanNeely on 8/20/2013 3:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
People who have access but don't use it? ex I suspect my grandfather has net access via the senior center and would be shocked if he couldn't get online via the local public library; but at least as recently as of a year ago he's never been online.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By karimtemple on 8/20/2013 4:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
This bothered me, so I went to read it myself. The source actually says "well over three quarters," so in this case "about 75%" could mean 81% lol. It also uses the figure "around 60 million" for people without Internet, which is around 20% of the U.S. population.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/20/13, Rating: 0
RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By kingmotley on 8/20/2013 6:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, cable and DSL from the major providers is also capped. So discounting all forms of internet that are "capped", that would leave approximately 100.1% +- 2% of Americans without internet.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/20/2013 7:37:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not really.

When I'm talking about "capped" above, it's something like a max of 10Gb per month for cellular wifi. Maybe 40Gb on satellite...which as noted is utterly useless to you if you play video games anyway.

The broadband "caps" that get bandied about are frequently not hard & fast like cellular/satellite...and generally start at about 200Gb per month anyway. Which for the *vast* majority of all users is essentially uncapped. I'd guess something like 97.9%, +/- 2%, of all DSL/cable/fiber optic customers have all the bandwidth they could possibly want.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By PrinceGaz on 8/21/2013 8:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
Most people aren't interested in playing online games and couldn't care less about not being able to do so on a satellite internet connection.

I certainly couldn't survive with just 40Gb (never mind just 10Gb) of data per month though; a single DVD-5 movie and that's the whole month gone! An average of a gigabyte per day is more in line with my typical usage, and I don't download all that much content, so I'd need a cap of no less than 30GB per month (and preferably more like 100GB so that I never have to bother about it).

By spamreader1 on 8/21/2013 10:02:15 AM , Rating: 2
Not just games though. I'm one of those with cellular, not too long ago it was a 5GB cap and $.05/MB, yes that per MB. I would often have a $250-300 internet bill. Now it is more reasonable, at $10/GB over the 5GB, but ATT will still send you nasty grams and threaten to cut your access.

My wife goes on facebook once or twice a day, I browse a few low bandwidth sites at home ( <5MB ) plus both of us accessing email, looking random things up on bing/wiki, and my kids might get 1 day a week to play something called webkins (about ~100MB/week). We have strict rules to limit websites that have any form of streaming video and still our usage averages between 6-8GB a month. And by any form of streaming video I mean even isn't allowed due to thier streaming ads.

I have to remote into work when I'm on call periodically, which might use ~100MB-150MB a week in bandwidth. Because of this requirment to use RDP over vpn, I have to have something with decent response time. Satalite has a given ~700ms response time due to the signal having to travel so far (LEO and back) Where 3g had response times of in the 50ms range, and my current LTE connecting gets closer to 30ms.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Dorkyman on 8/21/2013 9:17:50 AM , Rating: 2
So satellite doesn't count because you can't play games on it?

I guess that would matter to a few people. For the rest of us it would make no difference. We use the Internet to be, you know, productive.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/21/2013 11:44:03 AM , Rating: 2
Uh-huh. So you don't download anything? Don't stream anything? Don't do anything online other than check your email and poke people on Facebook?

If so, then great. But the reality is that satellite (and cellular wifi) really prevent you from participating in the modern online world.

By brasstax on 8/22/2013 12:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
There is nothing intrinsic about satellite's current bandwidth cap, it's simply a matter of cost. There is, however, an intrinsic latency added due to our current understanding of physics, though I suppose a LEO network like Iridium sat phones use could reduce this limitation (though cost there is pun intended).

That said, there is currently little that relies on low latency access, with day trading, gaming and VoIP being the exceptions that come to mind. Given that at least 2 of these could probably be considered vices, I certainly hope the government is not concerned with them.

As cloud computing grows, however, I suspect latency will become increasingly important.

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Labotomizer on 8/21/2013 9:03:36 AM , Rating: 2
You're a little too focused on the gaming aspect. Online gaming certainly isn't a "need". Although internet isn't a "need" either for some people. I couldn't go without it, but I also couldn't do my job without it.

I'm not sure at what point we decided the government needs to step in to get people internet. I think that's ridiculous. Phone service, at home, is something that is required in case of an emergency. Anything more than that is a luxury.

Of course, does this mean places that charge luxury tax on things like high speed internet will stop doing so? Probably not...

RE: Something doesn't make sense...
By Motoman on 8/21/2013 11:42:22 AM , Rating: 1
First of all, no one said anything about getting the government involved.

Secondly...forget gaming. Digital distribution, the apparent "savior" of modern society, basically doesn't work if you don't have real broadband.

Say you want to use Netflix for HD movie is something like a 3.5Gb stream. Just one movie is a significant chunk of your monthly allotment.

And that's just one example. Satellite is passable as "basic" internet connectivity...but you really can't participate in the vast majority of modern online life that way.

By Mitch101 on 8/20/2013 3:23:17 PM , Rating: 5
20% of the American Population are not participating in the NSA peekaboo I see you project. How Un-American. /sarcasm off

RE: Peekaboo!
By superflex on 8/20/2013 4:08:54 PM , Rating: 5
Now the 80% who do participate must pay an additional tax so we can get the skinny on those pesky holdouts.

RE: Peekaboo!
By Flunk on 8/20/13, Rating: 0
RE: Peekaboo!
By Mitch101 on 8/20/2013 4:56:25 PM , Rating: 2
I guess your right when there is a degree of truth involved.

How many choose not to?
By techxx on 8/20/2013 3:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
You can't forget that many people don't WANT to use the internet. You'd be surprised how many people are intimidated by technology of any form, especially the elderly.

RE: How many choose not to?
By Motoman on 8/20/2013 3:55:01 PM , Rating: 5
Or that they simply have no interest in it.

Believe it or not, you can get the news on TV. Or the radio...or in a newspaper.

And if someone *actually* wants to say something to you, they can call you on the phone. An actual phone...and actually talk to you. Instead of poking you on Facebook and posting a picture of a cat wearing pants on your wall.

RE: How many choose not to?
By Azethoth on 8/22/2013 12:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
I can haz pantz?

RE: How many choose not to?
By Moishe on 8/22/2013 11:37:10 AM , Rating: 2
The ridiculous thing is that "internet access" is not considered to be something that is a "right" or necessary.

That's BS. Internet access is a luxury that some may or may not want to pay for. It shouldn't be free.

The government's push for this stuff makes me think that they are gearing up for pure surveillance (1984 style) in the future, and they cannot do that without the internet in every home.

By rdhood on 8/20/2013 5:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
40 miles outside of Atlanta, and the only internet provider in the area, Windstream DSL, barely supports Netflix/Hulu/YouTube streaming at VHS quality

I guess it's better than dialup.

By btc909 on 8/20/2013 11:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't even consider having DSL available to be "having internet".

WW ranking
By bernardl on 8/21/2013 8:47:18 PM , Rating: 2

It is interesting to notice that UK is the only large country in the top 20.

The US is ranked 28th, Japan is ranked 33rd.


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