A U.S. Census report released Thursday shows that about 78 percent of Florida reported using high-speed Internet, but the percentages vary from metropolitan areas on the coasts to more rural places in the center of the state.
It is the first time data on computer and Internet use is available from the American Community Survey, an ongoing effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to collect information every year. The numbers are from 2013’s survey, the first year computer and Internet questions were asked.
In a statement, Census Bureau sociologist Thom File said Florida is notable for having a mix of metropolitan areas that have high and low percentages for computer and high-speed Internet use.
“Many states had metros with consistently high or low computer and high-speed Internet use, but other states were notable for having a mix of both high and low areas within their borders, often very near one another,” he said. “One clear example of this is seen in Florida. State level results show high percentages of both computer and high-speed Internet use, but when we look at the state’s individual metro areas, a more nuanced picture emerges.”
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According to the data, metropolitan areas around Palm Bay and Naples have about 90 percent computer use and around 82 percent high-speed Internet use. More inland, in areas around Lakeland and Sebring, computer use percentages are at about 83 and 75 percent, respectively. High-speed Internet use is lower, at around 65 percent.
Estimates for Miami-Dade County show about 80 percent of households have a computer, and about 69 percent have high-speed Internet. In Broward, about 87 percent of households have computers, and 77 percent have high-speed Internet. For Monroe County, about 81 percent have computers, and 68 percent use high-speed Internet.
Computer and Internet access has become an important factor in recent debates over the future of public libraries, particularly when it comes to students who need to do homework online.