About a fifth of Canadian households, many among the poorest in the country, still had no internet access in 2010, a survey suggests.
Forty-six per cent of households falling in the lowest income quarter — those earning $30,000 or less — had no internet access, according to Statistics Canada's 2010 Internet Use Survey, released Wednesday.
But in the highest income quarter — made up of households earning $87,000 or more — only three per cent lacked internet access, the survey indicates.
Lack of interest or need was the reason cited by a majority — 56 per cent — of the households that had no internet access.
Cost of service or equipment was next (20 per cent), followed by no access to a device such as a computer to connect to the internet (15 per cent), and a lack of confidence, knowledge or skills (12 per cent).
Households with three or more people or with at least one child or adolescent were far more likely to have internet access (93 per cent) than one-person households (58 per cent), the survey found.
Lowest in N.B., highest in B.C.
Across the country, households in New Brunswick were the least likely (70 per cent) to have internet access, while those in B.C. were the most likely (84 per cent). The trend appears despite the fact that a 2009 study by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission found high-speed internet access was available throughout New Brunswick, and less widely available in B.C.
Homes in urban areas were more likely (81 per cent) to have internet access than homes in rural areas (71 per cent), where the availability of internet service is often limited and the cost is typically higher than in urban areas.
Among households with internet access, 96 per cent said they had a high-speed connection.
"This means that, among all Canadian households, about three-quarters reported home high-speed internet access in 2010," said a Statistics Canada statement.
More than half (54 per cent) of households with internet used more than one device to connect.
Desktop (71 per cent) and laptop (64 per cent) computers were still the main source of connectivity, but 35 per cent of households used a wireless device such as a smartphone or tablet and 20 per cent used a video game console to access the internet.
Statistics Canada's survey of 30,000 households was conducted in October and November. Because the survey was redesigned for 2010, the results can't be compared with previous surveys. The survey also included questions about Canadians' online behaviours, and the results of that portion will be released later in the year.
In May, the CRTC announced that it wanted all households to have access to internet download speeds of at least five megabits per second by 2012.