Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:42 UK

US broadband usage rises sharply

African Americans
Less than half of African Americans have broadband

Some 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home, according to the Pew Internet Project.

The results surprised researchers, showing a 15% increase from a year earlier.

Net services seem to have escaped the recession with Americans more willing to cut back on mobile phone usage or cable TV than broadband.

Of those who still were not connected, 17% said it was because the technology was not available in their area.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they had cancelled or cut back on cable TV services or mobile phone services but only 9% said they had cancelled or cut back on broadband services.

"For many Americans a home broadband connection is a conduit for connecting to community and economic opportunity," said John B Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Internet Project.

"That puts broadband in the 'must keep' category for most users, even when economic times are tough."

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Michelle Fleury on how the US's free market leaves it with slower web access than in other countries.

Rural growth

Broadband users were asked how they viewed the importance of broadband in their lives.

Over half (55%) said that it was very important to at least one dimension of their lives, such as communicating with health care providers, the government or sharing information about the community.

Americans over 65 showed a 58% increase in adoption while low income families also showed growth.

The number of families living on household incomes of less than £18,000 with broadband connections grew by to 35%, a 40% increase on the previous year.

Rural Americans using broadband also grew to 46%, a 22% growth from last year.

But take-up of broadband among African Americans continued to rate below average, with less than half (46%) using a fast net service.

In the UK a similar survey by the Oxford Internet Institute found that twice as many people from higher than lower socio-economic use the internet, while the percentage of retired people online had risen just 4% since 2003 to 34%.



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