There’s about a one in five chance that you can’t read this at home on anything that won’t fit in your pocket — thanks to a surge in smartphone-only broadband use found by
One in five isn’t just a significant fraction. It’s also a significant factor that policy makers, tech companies and the users better identified as “citizens” should consider when we think about tech-policy issues, from net-neutrality regulations to the recently-proposed merger of Sprint (
Cutting the cord
“It’s an amazing number, and it speaks to the power of smartphones to some degree,” said Lee Rainie, Pew’s director for internet and technology. “ It speaks to maybe tradeoffs people have to make as they consider what gadgets they can afford, and what gadgets will work for them.”
The share of Americans who have cut the broadband cord is even higher among younger users, those that make less than $30,000 a year and minorities:
- 28% of adults aged 18-29 are smartphone-only, versus 16% of those 50-64.
- Among households making less than $30,000 a year, 31% were smartphone-only; for households making $75,000 and up, the figure was just 9%.
- 24% of African-American adults and 35% of Hispanic adults were smartphone-only, while only 14% of whites were.
In fewer words and numbers, the digital divide is real.
The study — based on phone interviews with 2,002 adults from Jan. 3 to Jan. 10 — also found that 15% of Americans had neither broadband nor a smartphone.
This study’s other key finding–also the one Pew played up in its headlines–is that the share of U.S. adults online who think the internet has been mostly a good thing for society has dropped to 70%. Four years ago—when we had a much more innocent attitude about social networks—that number was 76%.
Continued wireless weaknesses
Cost considerations have to drive much of this, Rainie said.
“The starting point for this is probably folks saying I need connectivity, I don’t have all the resources in the world for every kind, so what will serve me best?” he said. “You can only get one thing, for a lot of people it makes sense to have a smartphone.”
But even as LTE has
In fact, a
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