FACT SHEET: Rural Areas Magnify 'Digital Divide'

FALLING THROUGH THE NET: DEFINING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE, July 1999

This report on the telecommunications and information technology gap in America provides comprehensive data on the level of access by Americans to telephones, computers, and the Internet. It includes valuable information about where Americans are gaining access, what they are doing with their online connections, and provides trendline information since 1984.

According to the report, the number of Americans accessing the Internet has grown rapidly in the last year; yet, in the midst of this general expansion, the "digital divide" between information "haves" and "have nots" continues to widen.

Overview:

Americans living in rural areas are lagging behind the national average in computer and Internet access, regardless of income level. At some income levels, those in urban areas are 50% more likely to have Internet access than those earning the same income in rural areas.

With regard to telephones, rural households are as well connected as urban households, and far better connected than those in central cities. Nevertheless, those groups that are less likely to own phones (such as young, low income, and certain minority households) have particularly low telephone ownership rates in rural areas.

Highlights:

Significant Findings:

A "digital divide" exists among different demographic groups, as well as among different geographic areas. Households in rural areas, for example, are less likely to access the Internet than are households in urban areas or central cities. Households at certain income levels are also less likely to own computers than comparable households in urban areas or central cities. While telephone penetration is generally high in rural areas, certain groups -- such as Black or Hispanic, low income, or less educated households -- are less likely to have telephone connections in rural areas. This demonstrates the need for continued Universal Service programs to connect all rural households.

        Note:   Press Contact:                          For Report Details, contact:
                Mary Hanley, (202) 482-2075             Kelly Levy, (202) 482-1880
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