90% of all Internet hosts based in 21 states; significant gap in use among urban centers, small towns, and rural areas

“Leaders and Losers on the Internet,” a new study conducted by the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, reveals surprising information about the Internet’s impact on urban areas. According to the report, advanced telecommunications, rather than leading to the rise of small towns and rural areas, are actually reinforcing the economic and intellectual hegemony of a handful of states and regions in the country.

Mitchell L. Moss, director of the Taub Center, and Anthony Townsend, authors of the study, drew upon data from Matrix Information and Directory Services, Inc. (MIDS) and Netwizards Internet Domain Surveys to analyze the location of Internet hosts in the United States. They found that half of all U.S. Internet hosts are located in just five states: California, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Virginia; within these states, Internet hosts are densely concentrated in a small number of metropolitan regions. Furthermore, 90% of all Internet hosts are in 21 states, primarily on the East and West coasts of the nation and in a Midwest belt; more than half of the fifty states do not have a substantial number of Internet hosts.

“Whether this represents a natural process of technological diffusion or a technological gap that will grow in the future is not clear at this time,” says the report. It continued, “There is no reason to believe that this information gap will diminish quickly, since familiarity and experience with new technologies can facilitate technological diffusion among workers in close proximity to each other.”

The thirteen eastern seaboard states and California together have almost half of the nation’s Internet hosts. The largest single concentration of Internet hosts is based in Silicon Valley, California, encompassing Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and San Francisco counties. This region, which houses major universities, high-tech firms and computer software companies, has almost twice as many Internet hosts as there are in Southern California’s Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties combined. The second largest concentration of Internet hosts is in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the area in which many of the high-tech firms on Route 128 are situated, and the third largest concentration is in Los Angeles County.

In the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region, nearly 150,000 Internet hosts are based in Manhattan; this concentration is due to the enormous number of businesses and information-intensive firms in the financial service and media industries that are based there. Other concentrations of hosts are in Mercer County, New Jersey (where Princeton University, research labs, and numerous high-tech companies are located) and in Westchester County, New York, (where several corporate headquarters are based). Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as the four other boroughs of New York City, are not among the top 150 counties in the country with Internet hosts.

Surprisingly, some of the nations’ major cities — such as Houston, Miami, Detroit and New Orleans — are not major participants in the Internet. Given the heightened role of information in a knowledge-based economy and the high value placed on high-speed communications, access to the Internet may be the critical factor in regional development. The location of Internet hosts, then, suggests that there is a new pattern of “leaders and losers” in modern metropolitan growth.

The Taub Urban Research Center is the focal point for urban policy research at NYU. Drawing on faculty and students, the Center explores problems and issues affecting the New York metropolitan area and other large cities. The Center has an active program of conferences and seminars that attract participants from government, business, media, and nonprofit organizations. Its reports on economic development, education, foster care, recycling, and manufacturing are used by public agencies, business groups and nonprofit organizations throughout the city and region.

A complete copy of this report may be obtained from the Taub Center’s site on the World Wide Web (http://www.nyu.edu/urban/).

Press Contact