University of Vermont

University Communications

Research Shows Digital Divide Remains in Vermont

Release Date: 04-22-2009

Author: Jon C. Reidel
Email: Jon.Reidel@uvm.edu
Phone: 802/656-8206 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Despite a 57 percent increase in the number of Vermont households with high speed or broadband internet connections between 2001 and 2009, evidence of a "digital divide" remains, according to a recent poll conducted by UVM's Center for Rural Studies.

The "Vermonter Poll," a statistically representative, statewide telephone poll conducted annually by CRS, revealed that the proportion of Vermont households with high-speed or broadband internet has increased from 9 percent in 2001 to more than 66 percent in 2009. Among households making less than $25,000 a year, however, only 44 percent have computers compared to 83 percent of all households and 91 percent of households making more than $25,000. Of the households that did not have internet or broadband, nearly 46 percent said they knew broadband was available to them, while 17 percent were not sure.

"Citizens can't be connected unless they have a computer," said Jane Kolodinsky, director of the Center for Rural Studies and professor in Community Development and Applied Economics. "While progress is being made with regard to access to personal computers and the internet, we can't 'level the playing field' for Vermont students and adults in terms of access to the information highway until the digital divide issues are solved."

The 2009 "Vermonter Poll" revealed other digital disparities based on income, including the fact lower-income households are less likely to have broadband access than those making more than $50,000 annually. A similar disparity can be seen between rural households where 76 percent have broadband and urban (88 percent) and suburban (93 percent) households.

Overall, about 82 percent of polled households in Vermont have an internet connection. Of connected households, 18 percent have dial-up, 24 percent have a cable modem, 42 percent had DSL, 7 percent had satellite internet, 6 percent had wireless internet service, and 3 percent had fiber-optic or some other service (anything faster than dial-up is considered to be broadband, although speeds vary).

Between those that have broadband and those that answered about the availability of high-speed internet, at least 79 percent of households in the poll have broadband available to them. The State of Vermont had set a goal of 100 percent broadband availability in the state by 2010. Past polls have shown varying support for state and community efforts to expand broadband service.

Read a detailed report on the information technology questions from the 2009 "Vermonter Poll."

For questions about the survey please contact Will "Chip" Sawyer at 656-0892, william.sawyer@uvm.edu.