Despite a government push to increase broadband internet users, 13 percent of American adults, or 40 million Americans, still don’t go online, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis.
Age is part of the equation: seniors above 65 years old make up 41 percent of the total adults that do not use the web, and 18-to-29-year-olds make up only 1 percent.
Costs, benefits and availability of broadband internet, all of which vary widely by state, also play a role.
A 2013 Pew survey showed 34 percent of non-internet users had no interest or didn’t think the internet was relevant. A third found it to be too complicated or risky to use. About 19 percent said it was too expensive.
As part of the Recovery Act, the Federal Communications Commission recently expanded its broadband funding for libraries and schools by $1 billion per year.
President Barack Obama’s administration also called in a January 2015 report for states to change laws that hinder competition in broadband markets, which it said would increase access and decrease costs.
Office of Scieence and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council reported in June 2013 that 40 percent of American households either cannot purchase a fixed land-based or wired connection or must buy it from a single provider.
Researchers say that more work is required to expand broadband access.
“The growing broadband network confirms the country’s transition to a digital economy, but completing that transition will be impossible until broadband adoption looks as ubiquitous as water and electricity infrastructure,” Joseph Kane, senior research analyst at The Brookings Institution, said.
The Pew Research Center report found racial disparity among internet users is shrinking, but a gap remains. About 85 percent of white people and 97 percent of English-speaking Asian Americans use the internet, while 78 percent of black people and 81 percent of Hispanics use it.