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Digital divide has narrowed but inequity remains, report finds

In the wake of the pandemic, which has drawn attention to the state’s digital divide, inequities in access to devices and connectivity persist, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank.


Drawing on survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report shows that among California households with children, the biggest gains in access to devices were made by low-income households, households without a bachelor’s degree, and Black and Latino households.


Expanding access to broadband internet was more spotty, the brief suggests, and progress began stalling in spring 2021, leaving major equity gaps in place. Forty-one percent of low-income households still do not have full digital access (defined as access to both the internet and a device). Neither do 37% of Latino households and 29% of Black households.


Affordability and lack of infrastructure remain the key barriers to universal broadband access, the report suggests, noting that it will require ongoing collaborations between federal, state, and local stakeholders to achieve digital equity. That’s critical as online tools for learning become commonplace in an increasingly digital world.


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