Most Wired Cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Austin

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By: Justin Pope, AP Business Writer

(AP) Silicon Valley still rules the wired world, but Boston and Salt Lake City made huge strides in an annual survey of America’s most Internet-savvy cities.

Boston jumped 12 places to No. 4 on this year’s list, published in the May edition of Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. Salt Lake City jumped 23 places to sixth, though the magazine said it could be a one-time spike caused by the recent Winter Olympics.

San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; and Austin, Texas; maintained their grip on the top three spots, which they’ve held in all but one of the five surveys. The issue hits newsstands April 16.

Don Willmott, the magazine’s technology editor, said the biggest news may be the fact that numbers were up almost everywhere, despite the recession. It took a score of 36 out of 40 to win this year, up from 33.3. “Everyone’s getting better,” Willmott said.

The magazine uses a formula that measures more than just Internet use and high-tech jobs to get a sense of which communities make the most of the Web. Willmott said that analysis includes basic stats, the extent to which businesses are online and how sophisticated the users are. “We measure that by how often they shop and how many have gotten fast access,” he said.

The formula also includes an evaluation of content available in the area, including a ranking of how well local government uses the Net. That helped give Boston a boost. “It really is one of the best city Web sites,” said Willmott of “This year, we’re really emphasizing the idea that city government needs to start moving itself online and letting people know that as a way to make people more wired.”

This is the first time the magazine hasn’t tinkered with the formula from one year to the next, allowing a true comparison.

Top-ranked San Francisco has the highest percentage of households using the Net (78.8), is No. 2 in online spending per user ($356) and in domains per 1,000 firms (4,163), and sixth in broadband use and interest (54.9%). The data is compiled from Forrester Research and Matthew Zook of the Internet Geography Project.

The magazine ranks 86 metropolitan areas. Other big movers included Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., which jumped from 18th to 10th, though nearby Orange County, Calif., fell from fifth to 13th. Seven of the top 21 areas are in California.

The bottom three this year were Tulsa, Okla.; Scranton, Pa.; and Gary, Ind.

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