The US Department of Commerce’s 1995 report presents statistics on who, what, and where the lowest percentage of “telephone penetration”, “internet penetration”, and “modem penetration” exist in the continental United States. Using the Current Population Survey (CPS) designed to determine the demographics of telephone subscribers, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) added questions on computer use and access, and modem ownership and use. While the CPS survey on telephone subscriptions failed to recognize geographical location in their results, the NTIA made sure to tabulate their survey results based, not only on geographical region, but also on income, race, age, and education level.
Information “have nots” were found to be disproportionately high in rural areas and central cities (the largest area or part of a metropolitan area). Generally speaking, the young and the old, minority groups, and those with the lowest income and the least amount of education, were the least connected, but surprisingly, the most likely to use these resources for “economic uplift and empowerment.”
The report concludes with some solutions to these discrepancies. The authors acknowledge that insufficient statistical data makes it difficult to know/understand why the “have nots” exist. For example, it is not clear, based on the statistics obtained by the CPS and NTIA, whether the low-income disadvantaged are also the minority, the less educated, or the young and old populations suffering from the same disadvantages. However, once these profiles are more thoroughly fleshed out, the government, at all levels, will develop support groups to remedy the problems. In the meantime, the report suggests that public schools and libraries act as “community access centers” for those communities unable to access information on their own.