May 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

As Internet access spreads, a stubborn minority holds out

The number of U.S. households without Internet access shrunk from 31 million in early 2007 to 20 million in the first quarter of 2008. But about one in eight Americans never goes online, according to a National Technology Scan survey by Park Associates.

The number of U.S. households without Internet access shrunk from 31 million in early 2007 to 20 million in the first quarter of this year, according to the annual National Technology Scan survey by market research and consulting firm Park Associates. But about one in eight Americans never uses the Internet, and some never will, says John Barrett, director of research.

“The people who are not using the Internet at all tend to be over 65, have lower income and less education,” Barrett says. “They’re the ones who are going to be the hardest to get online.” Noting that many of the Internet holdouts are older, he says, “They’ve grown up their whole lives without it and just don’t see the need to use it.”

Among heads of households, about one in five has never used e-mail. Half of them are over 65 and 56% had no schooling beyond high school, according to the survey.

The survey does register a decline in the percentage of U.S. households without Internet access from 29% in early 2007 to 18% this year. Of the households still without Internet access, 7% plan to get connected in the next year.

The survey found 10% of survey respondents do not have Internet access at home but regularly access the web elsewhere. They tend to be lower-income individuals who can’t afford Internet access at home, Barrett says. Another 15% have Internet access at home but do not use it regularly, 63% regularly go online at home and 12% do not use the Internet inside or outside the home.

The report is based on a telephone survey of more than 1,000 consumers.

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