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Internet Usage Growing Faster In N.C. Than National Average

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolinians are getting wired to the Internet at a faster clip -- and with faster connections -- than the national average, a study released Wednesday says.

In terms of overall Internet penetration, 71 percent of North Carolina adults reported using the Internet, compared to 64 percent nationwide in 2004, according to

a report from the e-NC Authority


The study found encouraging news for rural areas, which have grown at the fastest rate since a survey in 1999. The household Internet penetration rate increased fastest in 85 counties designated as rural -- from 27 to 51 percent, a 24 percentage point gain. The increase in 60 non-metro counties was 29 percentage points, from 23 to 52 percent.

Elsewhere in Internet use, North Carolinians are signing up for high-speed Internet access slightly faster than the national average. In mid-2002, 19 percent of home Internet users in North Carolina utilized a broadband connection (such as DSL, cable, or ISDN), compared to 22 percent nationwide. By early 2004, 40 percent of North Carolina home Internet users had a broadband connection, compared to 39 percent nationwide, the study said.

The study also looked at computer ownership and found good news. In 1999, there was a 30 percentage point difference in home computer ownership in black and white households (31 versus 61 percent, respectively). By early 2004, the gap had narrowed to 5 percentage points (63 versus 68 percent).

The e-NC Authority, which released the report "North Carolinians Online: Trends from the Citizens Surveys, 1999-2004," works with all 100 of North Carolina's counties with a focus on rural and distressed urban areas.

The e-NC Authority is the group that once was called the Rural Internet Access Authority, which was created by the N.C. General Assembly in 2000. Operating statewide from a base in Raleigh, the e-NC Authority is supported through contributions from public and private entities.

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