One of the priority projects of President Barack Obama since he took office was the expansion of internet access across the United States. At present, 98% of homes in the country have access to high-speed broadband after spending billions of dollars. However, approximately 20% of American adults in the country still do not use the internet, according to a report from The New York Times.
Affordability of internet services
The Obama administration and policy experts are increasingly concerned because a great number of the population, around 60 million people, are unable to access government services, healthcare, educational services, and are having difficulty landing a job because of lack of computer knowledge, lack of interest or they cannot afford internet service.
According to experts, the digital divide makes the racial and economic differences in the United States deeper. John B. Horrigan, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies said, “As more tasks move online, it hollows out the offline options.” He noted that a majority of employers are not accepting applications offline. This means that if a person does not use the internet, he or she will be isolated from different opportunities.
A report from the Department of Commerce entitled Exploring the Digital Nation indicated that 66% of white American homes have internet while only 57% of African-American households use the internet.
The report also showed that the number of internet users is higher among those with college education and those households with more than $50,000 income. Older people have low adoption rates to the internet. Data showed that nearly 50% of 65-year old Americans or older use than internet while 75% of Americans younger than 65 years old have higher internet adoption rates.
Woman who never used the internet
For example, The New York Times quoted 78 year-old Willa Ohnoutka, who said she never used the internet because she is not comfortable using the technology. According to her, “I use my telephone. I get news on the TV. I’m just not comfortable involving myself with that Internet.”
John B. Morris Jr., director of Internet Policy at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said, “We recognize more work needs to be done to ensure that no Americans are left behind. Increasing the level of broadband adoption is a complex, multifaceted challenge with no simple, one-size-fits-all solution.”