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City study: Low-income areas five times as likely to lack internet access

A new study from the City of Seattle revealed that while 95 percent of Seattle households report internet access in their homes, people living in low-income communities are five to seven times more likely than  average residents to not have adequate internet access.

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“We know that access to technology is a race and social justice issue,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a foreward to the study. “We must strive to make sure that all our communities have access to high-speed internet and the skills they need to compete in our constantly-connected world.”

The study found that 99 percent of households making $50,000 or more annually have internet access. That number dropped to 79 percent for households making less than $25,000 a year.

Among the top reasons why some residents do not use the internet more were: Internet service is too expensive (57 percent), too slow/frustrating/internet doesn’t work well (34 percent), and service plans from internet providers are confusing (26 percent).

In her foreward, Mayor Durkan cited a handful of solutions Seattle employed to increase internet access. That list included more access to free public Wi-Fi at community centers and libraries, circulating internet hotspots to Seattle Public Library cardholders, and equipping tiny house villages with internet.

“I am committed to making sure that Seattle continues to lead the way on digital inclusion,” said Durkan. “We need the support of the entire community, and I invite both the private and public sectors to join us in this important work.”

The study did not address more out-of-the-box  solutions like a municipal broadband network, or Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal for a state broadband office.

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