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Digital Divide Continues

Faster, cheaper broadband would be an attraction

December 30, 2009

According to an Internet Innovation Alliance study of African-American and Hispanic consumers, only 42% use the Internet at least regularly.

Another 30% were considered occasional users, while 16% did not use the Internet at all. African-American respondents were nearly twice as likely as Hispanics to never go online.

Frequency of Internet Usage According to US African-American and Hispanic Consumers, December 2009 (% of respondents)

eMarketer estimates that overall, 64.8% of people of any age use the Internet at least once per month in the US.

“It is very telling that of those respondents who do not have Internet access, 43 percent cited either not knowing how to use the Internet or not seeing the need for the Internet as the reason why they are not online,” said Internet Innovation Alliance co-chairman David Sutphen, in a statement. “But interestingly, 44 percent of these same respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to Internet services if they were provided free lessons on how to use the technology and 30 percent would be more likely to adopt if they had more information about how they could benefit from going online. It’s clear that digital literacy programs indeed are a crucial part of the formula for closing the digital divide.”

Users also expressed interest in faster, cheaper access.

Middle-class and affluent respondents, as well as those more highly educated, were most likely to be regular Internet users. Less well-off and older consumers tended to be “outliers,” who used the Internet less or not at all.

The top Internet activity considered important to respondents was keeping in touch with friends and family, followed closely by education-related activities. Several utilitarian benefits were cited as important, such as job search, online banking and checking the weather.

Activites that US African-American and Hispanic Consumers Believe It Is Important to Be Able to Do Online, December 2009 (scale of 1-10*)

Users were less interested in social networking and even e-commerce, however.

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Check out today’s other article, “Social Media and Brand Reputation Strategy.”


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