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Report: 84 percent of Montanans have high-speed Internet access

About 84 percent of Montanans say they have access to high-speed Internet where they live, according to a report from the University of Montana and the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education.

A further 7.3 percent of those surveyed said they did not know if high-speed Internet was available where they live, meaning that access to broadband could be even greater than 84 percent.

The report (full text in PDF form) is based on a survey of 1,226 households. It’s focus was on distance learning opportunities, but the data also give us a good glimpse at the state of broadband in Montana.

Some details:

  • About 520,000 people in Montana between the ages of 18 and 64 have access.
  • Lower-income and less-educated households were less likely to have access.
  • The eastern half of Montana has less access to broadband.
  • The number of Indian households with broadband access is more than 10 percent smaller than the number of white households with broadband.
  • 5.9 percent of adult Montanans under age 65 said they do not use the Internet

(A note about those population figures: Those were provided by the authors of the report who based their figures on census data and did their math based on those figures.

Another thing to note is that all of these responses are based on what the people surveyed knew. We can hope they were honest and knowledgable about their Internet situations, but there’s no way to know for certain how accurate these figures are.)

“This information provides quantitative proof that while access is widely available, a digital divide still appears for Montana’s lower-income, Native American and rural populations,” Patrick Barkey, director of UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said in a written statement.

According to the report:

Since internet connectivity is a crucial link in distance learning, we asked the question a number of different ways. The most basic question – home internet connectivity – is reported in Table 5.4. Almost 84 percent of Montana adults aged less than 65 said they had working internet at home. Home connectivity is positively related to income and education, and is more prevalent for whites than American Indians. However, home access for even white, high earning respondents with a college degree is less than universal. Nearly one out of every ten college educated Montanans does not have internet access from home.

About distance learning: It’s interesting to note that the number of people interested in distance learning seems to be higher in areas where there’s more access to broadband Internet.

 

Of the people who said they had an interest in distance learning opportunities, 95.2 percent said they used the Internet, and 89.8 percent of them had access to the Internet at home.

Those who were surveyed in eastern Montana and north-central Montana showed the least interest in distance learning and also had less access to broadband.