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U.S. Home Broadband Adoption Hits 63%

pewReaders of this blog are skewed toward those interested in internet and web-centric technology and services. As such, the latest findings of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project will be of high interest.

These findings illustrate a departure from the stagnation in home high-speed adoption rates that had prevailed from December, 2007 through December, 2008. During that period, Project surveys found that home broadband penetration remained in a narrow range between 54% and 57%.

The greatest growth in broadband adoption in the past year has taken place among population subgroups which have below average usage rates. Among them:

  • Senior citizens: Broadband usage among adults ages 65 or older grew from 19% in May, 2008 to 30% in April, 2009.
  • Low-income Americans: Two groups of low-income Americans saw strong broadband growth from 2008 to 2009.
    • Respondents living in households whose annual household income is $20,000 or less, saw broadband adoption grow from 25% in 2008 to 35% in 2009.
    • Respondents living in households whose annual incomes are between $20,000 and $30,000 annually experienced a growth in broadband penetration from 42% to 53%.

Overall, respondents reporting that they live in homes with annual household incomes below $30,000 experienced a 34% growth in home broadband adoption from 2008 to 2009.

  • High-school graduates: Among adults whose highest level of educational attainment is a high school degree, broadband adoption grew from 40% in 2008 to 52% in 2009.
  • Older baby boomers: Among adults ages 50-64, broadband usage increased from 50% in 2008 to 61% in 2009.
  • Rural Americans: Adults living in rural America had home high-speed usage grow from 38% in 2008 to 46% in 2009.

Population subgroups that have above average usage rates saw more modest increases during this time period.

  • Upper income Americans: Adults who reported annual household incomes over $75,000 had broadband adoption rate change from 84% in 2008 to 85% in 2009.
  • College graduates: Adults with a college degree (or more) saw their home high-speed usage grow from 79% in 2008 to 83% in 2009.

Notably, African Americans experienced their second consecutive year of broadband adoption growth that was below average.

  • In 2009, 46% of African Americans had broadband at home.
  • This compares with 43% in 2008.
  • In 2007, 40% of African Americans had broadband at home.

The Pew Internet Project’s April 2009 survey interviewed 2,253 Americans, with 561 interviewed on their cell phones.

As I read the report, it was clear that there is an acceleration in broadband adoption which, in my view, is being driven by a number of variables: economic downturn causing a seeking of alternatives, efficiency and cost savings; friends, family and colleagues online, many using social media, creating compelling reasons for others to connect; and a continuing growth of online services in news, information, entertainment and more.