- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) A statewide study of Internet availability and usage shows Maryland is very rich in telecommunications access.
But the study, only the second of its kind in the nation after Ohio, also indicates many small businesses, schools and households are not taking full advantage of the Internet and what it has to offer, says Phillip Singerman, executive director of the Technology Development Corp. (Tedco).
The public-private partnership was created by the legislature to advance the use of information technology in Maryland.
The study financed with federal, state and private funds included telephone polls of 1,422 Maryland households and 1,126 businesses. Tedco also used laptop computers to test the speed of dial-up Internet access in various regions of the state and compiled the first maps showing DSL and cable modem service by regions of the state.
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend says the poll showed 64 percent of Maryland households have a personal computer compared with 57 percent nationally.
While personal computer use is only a few points ahead of other areas of the country, Maryland businesses far outranked their counterparts in other states in using the Internet.
Only 19 percent of businesses nationwide maintain a Web site compared with 44 percent in Maryland, the business poll showed. Eighty-nine percent of Maryland businesses reported using the Internet, almost triple the national average of 32 percent.
Mrs. Townsend says despite those high poll numbers, "many small and medium sized businesses don't use it as effectively as they could."
The study of the availability and use of information technology is just the first step, Mr. Singerman says.
Tedco will hold regional hearings over the next month and then will develop recommendations on how to use the information from the study to increase usage of information technology in Maryland.
Tedco's study showed that high-speed DSL service is available primarily in central Maryland with limited services areas as far west as Frederick County and on the Eastern Shore. Cable modem service is more widely available, except in Garrett County and the five middle Eastern Shore counties.
The study also showed that use of personal computers was closely connected to income and education levels.
Only 31 percent of high school graduates earning less than $50,000 a year reported having personal computers at home. The figure jumped to 91 percent for college graduates earning more than $50,000.

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