Internet access and penetration: An international urban comparison

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It has been shown elsewhere that the Internet presents an urban geography of its own, composed of varying locations for the phases of information handling: production, transmission, and consumption. Of these, access to the Internet and its consumption address two important questions when viewed from the urban perspective: how much is the Internet accessed by urbanites in different cities, and to what degree has it penetrated into urban households. These two aspects of Internet diffusion-access and penetration-may shed some light on differences among cities, both within countries and among them. They may further illuminate the very dissemination of the Internet as a multipurpose system, beyond its business and academic uses at work and school, i.e., its use for entertainment, information finding, e-shopping, home-banking, and a wide variety of other domestic applications. Access and penetration of the Internet at the urban scale is of special importance, in that cities serve as the social arena for local connectivity. It has also been argued that urbanites who have been well-connected locally before their introduction to the Internet may bring about higher levels of connectivity at all geographical spheres through the Internet. The objective of this article is to provide a comparative international perspective on Internet access by urbanites and penetration of the Internet into urban households, using data from various sources and suggesting some interpretations in light of geographical diffusion theory. Before this examination, we will propose a distinction among access, penetration, and use of the Internet, followed by a discussion of potential patterns for the differential adoption of the Internet in cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-85
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Urban Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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