Broadband adoption increased more than six-fold between 2001 and 2008 and provided some $32 billion in consumer benefits in everything from education and health care to new entertainment and civic affairs.
That is according to a study released Tuesday by the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of think tanks, nonprofits and companies focused on universal broadband deployment whose members include AT&T, fiber maker Corning, American's for Tax Reform and a variety of tech companies. Among the findings are that 66.6 million households had broadband by 2008 vs. 10.4 million in 2001.
It also found that the number of slower dial-up connections had gone in the other direction, dropping from 44.2 million households in 2001 to 10.5 million in 2008.
The number of homes with no Internet decreased from 53.6 million to 39.7 million over that same period.
The alliance study also said that while adoption rates continue to vary significantly according to race, Internet access is valued highly regardless of ethnicity.
"Broadband is one of the great equalizers, and it's encouraging to see that taking advantage of the value that broadband access has to offer is now equally important to minorities," said Alliance Co-Chairman Larry Irving in announcing the study.
The study, commissioned by the alliance, was produced by Jonathan Orszag, former economic advisor in the Clinton administration; Princeton economic professor Robert Willig; and Mark Dutz, from consulting firm Compass Lexecon.
The study is released as the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and Rural Utilities Service are preparing to hand out billions in broadband stimulus money to boost adoption and deployment of broadband. At the same time, the FCC is collecting comment and information on its national broadband plan.