Report | Economic Growth

New Inequality Frontier: Broadband Internet Access

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January 2006 | EPI Working Paper #275

New Inequality Frontier: Broadband Internet Access

by Caroline J. Tolbert and Karen Mossberger

The potential economic impact of broadband is substantial, and broadband’s faster and more convenient access to the Internet creates social benefits including high-speed interactive uses in the K-12 classroom, distance learning, medicine, telecommuting, and adaptive technology for individuals with disabilities. This report finds that broadband use may encourage skill development and the migration of daily tasks online.  Although broadband access has now become more widespread, there are marked disparities in rural areas, where the need for fast connections that can compensate for geographic isolation is perhaps the greatest.  Other gaps in broadband access and use are clearly related to social factors (income, education, age, race/ethnicity and gender) rather than infrastructure, as they largely mirror the dimensions of inequalities in computer and Internet access more generally.

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