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Survey Shows Disparities in Broadband Access in Cuyahoga County

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 8:50 AM

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About one third of adults in Cuyahoga County don't have broadband Internet access at home. That's the finding of a survey led by researchers at the University of Iowa and University of Illinois at Chicago. ideastream's Nick Castele has more.

The survey found that majorities of some adult demographic cohorts in Cuyahoga County can’t get on broadband Internet at home. They include senior citizens, African Americans, low-income adults and adults with at most a GED or high school education.

Bill Callahan with a group called One Community, which commissioned the survey, tries to connect people with broadband.

Callahan says the results show that as society depends more and more on the Internet, many people are being left behind.

CALLAHAN: “Right now we have a lot of people who are in a situation where their bank wants them to get online, the county wants them to get online, the school wants them to get online, the newspaper wants them to get online. And they can’t.”

According to One Community’s report, those deficiencies are even more pronounced in the city of Cleveland and in some inner-ring suburbs. Callahan says those people may be able access Internet in other ways, like on their mobile phones, at the library or at work.

He says other studies have identified a few reasons people have trouble getting online at home. 

CALLAHAN: “There are people who just don’t see the value of it. That’s not a small group. But then there’s a large group of people for whom affordability is an issue. And then then there’s a substantial group for whom fear is an issue. Or just feeling like they just don’t have the social support or the understanding of it to get online.”

Some groups, such as young people and families, showed high usage of broadband at home.

One Community has tried to connect people with broadband using money from the federal stimulus program. Callahan says that money is now running out.

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