DURHAM – North Carolinians aren’t the quickest adopters when it comes to broadband.

Despite the fact that around 94.8 percent of North Carolinians have access to high-speed internet, only 59.4 percent of households adopt it, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“It’s pretty low. That’s a good 40 percent of the population that has access but is still not adopting,” said Amy Huffman, North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s digital equity and digital inclusion program manager.

It affects rural and urban areas equally.

“That’s a big problem,” she said.

On Thursday, Huffman joined government officials and community leaders as part of Governor Cooper’s Task Force on Connecting North Carolina focused on tackling some of the barriers contributing to North Carolina’s digital divide.

E2D’s executive director Pat Millen and Eric Boyette, NCDIT’s Secretary on Thursday.

It was the third such meeting — this time held at North Carolina Central University Law School in Durham — since the Governor formed the task force back in March.

Huffman said there are a number of reasons behind the state’s low adoption rates.

Among them: service and equipment costs, lack of digital literacy and information skills, and not understanding how the internet is relevant to people’s daily lives.

“We tend to see a lot of low-income families and households are specifically left behind. But in some areas, it cuts across income,” Huffman said.

A survey conducted by the department found that 67% of the households said cost is the number one reason they do not have internet access. Another 24% said high-speed internet access is not available in their area

The decision not to use broadband, regardless of the reason, comes to their detriment.

“They’re going to be completely left behind in terms of their economic opportunity, their health opportunity and their ability to thrive and contribute to our community and democracy,” Huffman said.

It’s also a missed opportunity, she added.

“They could be adding to the economy in creating the next new startup, the next new technology that can contribute to society.”

However, a number of local and regional initiatives are working to combat that.

The 30-strong crowd listened to presentations from some of the leaders – including Digital Charlotte’s executive director Bruce Clark, Kramden Institute’s Michael Abensour and E2D’s executive director Pat Millen.

Eric Boyette, NCDIT’s Secretary, was also in attendance. He believes the task force will help bump up those adoption figures.

“That’s one of our goals. We’re early in this task force, but we’re looking at what we can do to improve broadband.”