Digital Divide: In the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities

May 21, 2024

A Quantitative Report about the Digital Divide In the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities

While the pandemic heightened awareness of the digital divide and the staggering number of households unable to benefit from digital services and opportunities, Asian American, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities throughout the country have been fighting to achieve digital equity and inclusion for years.

Broadband challenges vary by community but include a lack of high-speed internet network availability, a lack of access to digital readiness tools and devices, insufficient access to information and resources that can help non adopters get online safely. For example, greater knowledge sharing and application support for programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal program dedicated to helping low-income families connect to high-speed internet service, is critical to getting more people online and improving digital equity and inclusion outcomes.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) 2019 Internet Use Survey found that while the overall population increased their use of the internet from 2017 to 2019, Asian Americans were 4% less likely to go online compared to White non-Hispanics1. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic’s challenges accelerated innovation and the adoption of emerging technologies. But as services, media, and communications increasingly move to online platforms, those without access to affordable, high-speed internet will be left behind. For unserved and rural areas of the country, lack of availability to broadband networks creates a significant barrier for those who are waiting for broadband deployment to reach their communities, including AANHPI communities that live in rural areas.