Gartner's Digital Divide Report: 50 percent of U.S. Households Now Have Internet Access

Gartner CEO Advises Congress on Digital Divide Solutions

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2000 - Michael D. Fleisher, CEO of Gartner Group, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB) today announced the findings of Gartner's Digital Divide and American Society Report at the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology. This report examines the gap between the technologically destitute and wired citizens across the United States.

Today, 50 percent of U.S. households have Internet access, and by 2005, Gartner projects that 75 percent of U.S. households will be connected. Despite a booming economy, lower cost PCs and phenomenal growth in the Internet, there is still a strong Digital Divide in the United States. across the United States.

To narrow the divide, the government will need to play a more active role. across the United States.

"Governments need to encourage business strategies that help to narrow the Digital Divide," Fleisher said. "Government policies such as tax credits for providing Internet access to employees and telecommuting can encourage businesses to provide low-cost Internet access for workers in their homes." across the United States.

According to Gartner, there are three major factors that prolong the Digital Divide in the United States: across the United States.

  1. Access to the Internet in the home - While half of U.S. households have Internet access, the penetration rate differs drastically based on socioeconomic status, which is a combination of household income and education level. Currently, Gartner research shows that 35 percent of lowest socioeconomic status Americans have Internet access, compared to 53 percent in the lower-middle socioeconomic bracket, 79 percent in the upper-middle bracket and 83 percent in the highest socioeconomic bracket.
  2. The Broadband Divide - While Internet penetration is expected to surpass 75 percent of U.S. households by 2005, another Digital Divide emerges based on high-speed access via bandwidth. "We may finally master Internet access in every home, but a new digital divide will gape before us if broadband access costs an additional $40 per month per household," Fleisher said. "This will be the equivalent of having the moderate and upper classes in IMAX theatres while the underprivileged are still watching silent movies."
  3. The Experience Divide - Once online, users have a ramp-up period of several months to several years, according to Gartner, until they are fully realizing the benefits of the Internet. "If a 45-year-old person is learning how to read, he will not begin by reading Shakespeare," said Gartner analyst Mark Smolenski, author of the report. "Similarly, becoming wired and becoming Internet-proficient is a skill acquired over time with frequent use."

Gartner analysts said governments must carefully evaluate their own workplaces for opportunities to close the Digital Divide.

"In response to a shift to knowledge as the center of wealth production, most global enterprises will require major overhauls of governance, people management, workplace policies and workforce planning by 2005," Smolenski said. "If government agencies maintain to a traditional view of management, public sector employees and public service will face an increased risk of becoming obsolete."

Additional analysis on digital divide will be presented during Gartner's Capital Hill e-Government Seminar, "How to Leverage the Power of 'G'" on October 3 at the Capital Building, Room HC-5, in Washington, D.C. This seminar will examine what needs to be done to implement and manage electronic government strategies, and to encourage congressional and other government officials to learn more about the potential solutions and challenges of e-government.

Gartner's Digital Divide and American Society Report provides detailed analysis on the digital divide and its social and economic implications for the U.S. nation and its citizens. To view this report, please visit

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