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Digital Divide Among School-Age Children Narrows, but Millions Still Lack Internet Connections

December 11, 2018 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

America continues to make significant strides in reducing the digital divide among school-age children, according to NTIA’s November 2017 Internet Use Survey. In 2017, 14 percent of the U.S. population between ages 6 and 17 lived in homes with no Internet service, down from 19 percent in 2015 (see Figure 1). These are encouraging numbers that echo our previous report on the narrowing digital divide.

Figure 1: School-Age Children Lacking Internet Service at Home

Still, significant challenges remain, especially for the approximately 7 million school-age children that lived in households without home Internet service in 2017. These children were also less likely than their peers to use the Internet from other locations.

Among children in offline households, just 16 percent went online while at school, and only 5 percent used the Internet from a library or community center, compared with 60 percent and 20 percent of children with home Internet service, respectively. In fact, only 20 percent of school-age children living in offline households used the Internet at all, leaving nearly 6 million of the 7 million children even less connected as schools increasingly rely upon online resources for communication with parents and instruction.

Most Americans Continue to Have Privacy and Security Concerns, NTIA Survey Finds

August 20, 2018 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Privacy and security online continue to be major issues for Americans, according to an NTIA survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly three-quarters of Internet-using households had significant concerns about online privacy and security risks in 2017, while a third said these worries caused them to hold back from some online activities. About 20 percent said they had experienced an online security breach, identity theft, or a similar crime during the past year.

However, the 2017 survey showed a decline in households reporting concerns and avoiding certain online activities compared with the 2015 survey, which first asked these questions. The proportion of online households reporting privacy or security concerns fell from 84 percent to 73 percent during this period. Similarly, the proportion of online households that said privacy concerns stopped them from doing certain online activities dropped from 45 percent to 33 percent.

Since 1994, NTIA has regularly commissioned the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct surveys on Internet use. In the latest survey, which went into the field in November 2017, over 43,000 of the more than 52,000 interviewed households reported having at least one Internet user, and those Internet-using households were asked the privacy and security questions.

New Data Show Substantial Gains and Evolution in Internet Use

June 06, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

The digital divide is showing signs of giving way as more Americans from all walks of life connect to the Internet. Several historically disadvantaged groups showed significant increases in online adoption, according to initial results from NTIA’s most recent survey on Internet use conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey, which was conducted in November 2017, reveals new contours of Americans’ Internet use. In 2017, more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. Additionally, for the first time since NTIA began tracking use of different types of computing devices, tablets were more popular than desktop computers among Americans, and the number of people who used multiple types of devices also increased substantially.

Narrowing Digital Divide

The data show that 78 percent of Americans ages 3 and older used the Internet as of November 2017, compared with 75 percent in July 2015, when our previous survey was conducted. This increase of 13.5 million users was driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online.

Initial Estimates Show Digital Economy Accounted for 6.5 Percent of GDP in 2016

March 15, 2018 by NTIA

This blog post was cross-posted on BEA's website.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released, for the first time, preliminary statistics and an accompanying report exploring the size and growth of the digital economy. Goods and services that are primarily digital accounted for 6.5 percent of the U.S. economy, or $1.2 trillion, in 2016, after a decade of growing faster than the U.S. economy overall, BEA’s research shows. These new estimates are supported in part by funding from NTIA.

From 2006 to 2016, the digital economy grew at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent, outpacing overall U.S. economic growth of 1.5 percent per year.

In 2016, the digital economy supported 5.9 million jobs, or 3.9 percent of total U.S. employment. Digital economy employees earned $114,275 in average annual compensation compared with $66,498 per worker for the total U.S. economy.

BEA includes in its definition of the digital economy three major types of goods and services:

NTIA Recommends Improvements to the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection

January 03, 2018 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

NTIA relies on sound data to understand the state of communications and information use in the United States, and to develop policies that promote robust broadband services across the country. Since 1994, NTIA has been collecting data on broadband adoption and usage in the United States. Our work has been complemented in recent years by the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data program.

Broadband providers—including both wired and wireless providers—complete Form 477 to report where they offer service, as well as what speeds they offer and the technologies they use, among other information. The data collected through Form 477 constitute a critical resource for NTIA, as well as other policymakers and researchers who are interested in understanding Internet access in the United States. This week, in response to the FCC seeking ideas for how to improve its Form 477 data collection, NTIA filed comments recommending specific measures the FCC can take to enhance the program.

In the filing, NTIA recommends improvements to two aspects of the Form 477 program. First, the FCC should bolster the accuracy of the broadband availability data. During every reporting period, numerous providers from across the country, using a range of different methodologies, submit data on every Census block they serve. Such extensive data are bound to include some inaccuracies and differences based on providers’ interpretations of reporting instructions.

NTIA Data Offers Window Into Understanding Veterans’ Computer and Internet Use

November 08, 2017 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Broadband can play an essential role in supporting veterans by providing access to services and helping them to establish a stable and fulfilling civilian life.

As we honor our veterans this week, we take seriously our responsibility to ensure their seamless transition civilian life and recognize that it’s critical to that all veterans have access to broadband.

Understanding the barriers to veterans’ broadband access and adoption is the first step to reducing the challenges veterans face as they seek out job opportunities, affordable housing, vital health services and more.

In advance of Veterans Day, NTIA conducted an analysis of its Digital Nation data to better understand the landscape of veterans’ computer and internet use in America.  Since 1994, NTIA has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to survey Americans about their computer and Internet use. Were we able to break out the data by veteran status going all the way back to our earliest data collections. We also added “Veteran Status” as a search option in our Data Explorer tool so that the public can more easily examine the data and create custom charts about internet use by veterans.

Three Papers Using NTIA Data to be Presented at Research Conference

September 07, 2017 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

For more than 20 years, NTIA has commissioned the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct surveys on Internet and computer use. The Census Bureau periodically includes this Digital Nation survey as a supplement to its Current Population Survey (CPS) – it’s one of numerous supplements that are regularly included with the CPS, with topics ranging from school enrollment to tobacco use.

NTIA has offered our analysis of the resulting data in a series of reports, and we post the raw datasets and other analysis tools to assist researchers who want to use the data. This enables researchers outside of government to make original and innovative use of the data in their own studies, which ultimately contribute to better-informed policymaking.

Tomorrow, three research papers using NTIA’s Digital Nation survey data will be presented at the 45th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference attended by researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. The papers serve as instructive examples of how researchers can take NTIA’s survey data beyond the basic metrics to offer unique and valuable insights into Internet use in America.

Building Our Next Internet Use Survey

January 09, 2017 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Today, NTIA began seeking public comment on the next edition of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), which will go into the field in November 2017 and will build on previous research to track the evolving ways Americans are using new information technology.

For more than two decades, the CPS Supplement has been the primary data source for NTIA’s research into who goes online, what devices and applications people use on the Internet, and what barriers stand in the way of all Americans effectively utilizing the latest information technologies. Moreover, researchers and policymakers inside and outside of government rely on our surveys in part because of their large sample size—around 53,000 households—as well as their in-depth questions and public dataset availability.

Mapping Computer and Internet Use by State: Introducing Data Explorer 2.0

October 27, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, and Christopher Weiss, Information Technology Specialist, Information Technology Division

One of the major advantages of NTIA’s surveys on computer and Internet use stems from their very large sample size—approximately 53,000 households representing more than 120,000 people. This allows us to break out results by demographics like age, race, income, and education, as well as by state of residence. Today, we are launching a new feature of our Data Explorer tool enabling users to visualize NTIA’s computer and Internet use data by state, with metrics displayed in a national map.

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by State
Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998 & 2015
December 1998                                                          July 2015

Users can easily adjust the map to reflect different datasets, while pressing the “Play” button cycles through datasets to show how the country has changed over time. The map view is available for every metric in Data Explorer, such as use of various devices, locations of Internet use, and online activities.

NTIA Shares Insights on Internet Research at TPRC

September 29, 2016 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Tomorrow, policy staff from NTIA will be participating in an annual policy research conference where they will be discussing important research about Americans’ computer and Internet use habits. They will be presenting two working papers at the 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference on information, communications, and technology policy, which brings together researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. These papers shed light on important policy issues relying on data collected though NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS Supplement).

In the first working paper, Trust in Internet Privacy and Security and Online Activity, NTIA staff used data from the most recent CPS Supplement, which included questions on household privacy and security concerns, to identify certain indicators of distrust in security online. Their analysis reveals that Internet-using households with either serious concerns with Internet privacy or prior experiences with a security breach or harassment were more likely to report that they refrained from a range of online activities, after controlling for other factors.

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