Utah ranks highest for computer ownership

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah leads the nation in the percentage of residents who have a computer at home, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 95 percent of people in the state have a computer at home compared to an average of 88 percent in country as a whole, the study released Thursday found.

Rounding out the top five are New Hampshire, Alaska, Wyoming and Colorado. The final two states were tied.

Utah has a strong history in the technology sector, said Pete Ashdown, president of Salt Lake City-based Internet service provider XMission. He pointed to the University of Utah’s strong computer science program, saying it was one of the first four nodes on the precursor to the Internet.

“I think that has done a significant amount to get people involved with computers across the board,” Ashdown told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1Bs869Q).

Utah’s population also has the country’s youngest median age, and younger people tend to use computers more often. The analysis of 2013 Census data also counted smartphones and tablets, though desktops were still the most common household computer type.

Utah also has five of the country’s top nine computer ownership cities: Provo-Orem, St. George, Ogden-Clearfield, Logan and Salt Lake City.

Utah has fallen from its previous top rank in access to Internet service, though. The study placed the state in fifth place, behind New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut.

That may be because the Census this year took into account how many people had access to high-speed Internet.

Last year, the Census Bureau ranked Utah ranked No. 1 for Internet access, finding 92.5 percent of resident over age 3 were connected.

But the state’s vast rural areas often do not have high-speed Internet available.

Most people get their service from private companies, and since Internet service is often a costly proposition, big businesses usually focus their resources on urban markets where they can expect the most customers, Ashdown said.

When he started his business 20 years ago, Ashdown said he expected to serve techies like himself.

“I certainly did not anticipate or expect that it would become as ubiquitous as it is,” he said.

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