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Keywords:

  • Digital divide;
  • internet;
  • cyberspace;
  • broadband;
  • mobile internet

ABSTRACT

While cyberspace has become increasingly ubiquitous in American society, enormous class, ethnic, and spatial inequalities characterise access to the US internet. This paper summarises the country's digital divides in the early twenty first century. First it notes major market and policy forces that have led to the growth in internet access. Second, it addresses the changing social and spatial patterns of internet access between 1995 and 2010. Although penetration rates grew among all socio-demographic categories, significant differences by age, income, ethnicity and educational level persist but not gender. Third, it points to the roles of public schools and libraries as mechanisms to alleviate the divide. Fourth, it examines differentials in broadband access as the most recent manifestation of internet inequality. Fifth, it comments on the mobile internet and urban ‘hotspots’. The conclusion points to public policy measures that could diminish discrepancies in access.