Cellphones Helping Minorities Close Gap on Internet Access?

Article excerpt

Blacks and Hispanics seem more likely than whites to use cellphones instead of home computers to get Internet access, a new report finds. Can that help them narrow the digital divide?

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to access the Web from a cellphone rather than from an Internet-connected home computer, an indication that they are using the cheaper mobile devices to overcome the so-called digital divide.

That finding, in a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center, by no means implies parity has been reached. Fewer Hispanics and blacks than whites went online last year or owned a cellphone. Two-thirds of adult Hispanics and black Americans went online in 2010 compared with 77 percent percent of white adults. And 76 percent of Hispanics and 79 percent of blacks owned a mobile phone, compared with 85 percent of whites.

The difference in access to technology is more pronounced when it comes to Internet service at home. Forty-five percent of Latinos and 52 percent of blacks have broadband at home, compared with 65 percent of whites.

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The report suggests that Latinos and blacks are opting to access the Internet on their phones instead. Some 6 percent of Latinos and blacks report that they access the Web from a cellphone but otherwise have no Internet service at home, compared with only 1 percent of whites. …