Big digital divide between suburban and rural Illinois

The Partnership for a Connected Illinois released a report recently which revealed that although Illinois has a relatively high rate of high-speed Internet usage, the rural areas of the state lag behind.

The report, Broadband Adoption In Illinois: Who is online, who is not, and how to expand home high-speed adoption, was prepared by the group's research director, John B. Horrigan, and a team of researchers. In its news release, The Partnership for a Connected Illinois admits that the state is experiencing a significant digital divide.

While overall 68 percent of Illinois residents have home broadband, that figure drops below 60 percent in rural areas. On the other hand, residents of the Chicago suburbs beyond Cook County post a 76 percent home adoption rate.

According to the report:

"The 32% of Illinois adults without broadband at home are older, more rural, and have lower incomes than broadband users in the state. Cost, relevance, and digital literacy are cited as key reasons people do not have broadband."

The divide itself exists for a variety of reasons. The report noted:

"Three-quarters (76%) of non-adopters exhibit little interest in home broadband service and they typically cite a range of reasons for not having high-speed Internet at home - such as not seeing the relevance of broadband, digital literacy, and cost barriers."

However, either increased competition, or effective regulation could change that. People who don't have, but are interested in, broadband have twice as many smartphones as those not interested. As the report says, "This indicates that, while this group can clearly afford a smartphone and monthly fee for data, their budgets are constrained such that an additional service - that is, home broadband - is out of reach for many."

Broadband Adoption In Illinois: Who is online, who is not, and how to expand home high-speed adoption (John B. Horrigan, Nov. 2012)

New Report Reveals Regional Differences in Illinois Broadband Usage (broadbandillinois.org, Nov. 14, 2012)