Erie Vital Signs

Technology: Internet Access

Recent Performance

This is trending downward.

Data for 2013 show that just under 76% of all Erie households have access to the Internet. That’s the good news. The bad news is that nationally about 79% have internet access, and Erie has a lower rate than ten of its 13 peer areas. While Erie’s rate is not dramatically lower than the national average, we can do better.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of households (not people) who have access to the Internet, either through a paid subscription or provided free without a subscription.

Why It's Important

Internet access has become critical infrastructure that supports nearly every facet of our lives by connecting us to opportunities, resources, and services. It is crucial as a way to stay informed, access government programs and services, search for employment, do work for an employer, obtain health services, carry out financial transactions, support entrepreneurial activity, stay connected with each other, and for people of all ages to get educated, not to mention entertainment options. Businesses may also judge a community as a possible location based on internet access as one form of local infrastructure. This means that lack of access is a serious hurdle in many ways, and the digital divide is a serious problem for those on the wrong side of it.

While internet access is clearly important, we don’t know the extent to which a lack of internet access in a household is due to lack of infrastructure (presumably in communities outside of urban core areas) versus the willingness or ability to purchase a connection.

The Details

An Internet subscription refers to a type of service that someone pays for to access the Internet such as a data plan for a mobile phone, a cable modem, DSL, or other type of service. This will normally refer to a service that someone is billed for directly for Internet alone or sometimes as part of a bundle. Internet access without a subscription include cases such as free Internet service provided by a respondent's town or city or free Internet service a university may provide for their students.

Data about computer and Internet use were collected by asking respondents to select "Yes" or "No" to each type of Internet subscription. Respondents were able to select more than one type of Internet subscription. Types of access included dial-up, DSL, cable modem, fiber-optic, satellite internet service, and mobile broadband.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator has no subcategories. However, the original data source does provide data on types of Internet access, and also provides data on Internet access by race, educational attainment, and labor force status.

Peer Areas

Thin indicator includes data on all 13 of the standard peer areas, along with U.S. and PA data.


Annual, presumably, but 2013 was the first year that the data are available.


  • American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. One year estimates. Table B28002: Presence and Types of Internet Subscriptions in Household.

Other Related Data

U.S. Census, Computer and Internet Use
Provides data and reports since 1982, including national and some state data, although metro data only begin in 2013.

Additional Studies and Research

Latest Erie Data from the Economic Research Institute of Erie, at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

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