NEW YORK - The use of high-speed Internet services is growing fast in rural America, partly closing the gap between country and city, a survey shows.
Last fall, 24 percent of rural Americans had broadband Internet access at home, more than double the 9 percent rate reported in 2003, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
By comparison, 39 percent of urban and suburban dwellers had broadband last fall, up from 22 percent in 2003.
The main reason for lower rural broadband adoption appears to be availability, the study said. But Pew also noted that country dwellers are on average older, less educated and poorer than urbanites and suburbanites, factors that are associated with lower levels of Internet use.
However, rural Americans who have broadband Internet are almost as likely as others to use it on a given day.
Adding in people who use dial-up or access the Internet only at work, 62 percent of country dwellers use the Internet, compared with 70 percent elsewhere.
Rural Internet users are slightly more likely than others to participate in online education and to download games, and less likely to bank online or buy travel tickets.
The project surveyed 5,262 U.S. adults in September and December last year. The margin of sampling error was 3 percentage points in either direction.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The project studies the social and civic effects of the Internet.