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Rural Digital Economy



The digital economy has been rapidly changing as new communication and information technologies have been developed. In 1995, there were roughly 16 million Internet users across the globe; by 2008 there were nearly 1.5 billion, about 22 percent of the world's population. Two-thirds of U.S. adults had in-home Internet access by 2008. Hosts, also known as end-user computers, grew from 1,000 in 1984 to 570 million worldwide in 2008. Online retail sales in the U.S. went from $31 billion in 2001 to $107 billion in 2007. Online wholesale trade in 2006 was an estimated $613 billion, or approximately 16 percent of sales. Online wholesale trade in farm products was an estimated $5 billion, or 4 percent of all wholesale farm product sales in 2006. The rural economy has not been left behind, but as the digital economy grows, questions of where it is available, who participates and for what, and the potential role for public policy have arisen.

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Updated date: February 16, 2010