New studies show that 7% of Americans can only access the internet through a phone

By Justin Kahn
Apr 1, 2015
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  1. A new study courtesy of the Pew Research Center is giving us a better idea of how Americans are using the internet. While we previously knew from past studies that around 89% of all adult Americans use the internet regularly, new data says that around 7% of those in the US rely on a mobile device for access.

    While most have more than one device whether it be a laptop, tablet, smartphone or desktop computer to access the net, there is apparently a small portion of the population in the US that can only access it via their phone. The study says that this small percentage is mainly made up of poorer minorities that are less educated. About 15% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 are completely dependent on a phone for web access, according to Pew.

    The study clearly points at lower income households being more likely to only access the web on mobile, as only 1% of homes that brought in more than $75K fell in this bracket.

    The data also showed that those making less than $30,000 a year were about 4 times more likely to submit a job application using a smartphone than those with higher yearly earnings. The 7% in question also “frequently” reached data limits and nearly 25% of them have had their service suspended at some point or other because they couldn’t afford it.

    The data from the research was gathered from October through December of last year. You can get more details and a full break down of the findings here.

    Permalink to story.

  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,298   +668

    It stands to reason that most of the people who have no Internet options besides mobile are low-income: most live in rural areas where the average income is nearly always lower. Every credible estimate regarding the number of Americans trapped on the "last mile" places it at around 20%. That correlates almost perfectly to the number of US households that are more than three miles outside of an incorporated area. The cable and phone companies have no economic motivation for supplying broadband to areas that have fewer than 10 households per square mile, esp. when many of those dwellings aren't within 100 feet of a main road. Satellite isn't a viable solution for anyone - even the biggest wireless data packages are cheaper, faster and more reliable but, ironically, only higher income (I.e. urban) customers can afford them. Its a shame that Google and other US internet companies are so fixated on connecting the Third World when so many people in their native country have no good options for Internet.
    SNGX1275 likes this.
  3. Axle Greese

    Axle Greese TS Enthusiast Posts: 30

    A workmate of mine is only interested the internet that can be accessed from his smartphone. He's enamored with the portability side of internet access and what he can turn his smartphone into using various Android apps. I'm the opposite. I like a big screen, a large powerful PC, and a high speed internet connection.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    Very noble thoughts indeed but it all boils down to one thing, Money!!!... Google and FB aren't charities. They'll make tons more money from the millions in 3rd world countries than they will from a handful of unfortunate rural sods. Unfair? Yes, but it's the way of commerce (and the world).
  5. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +137

    No, it doesn't stand to reason that most users are lower income. Owning a phone is damn well expensive. A phone plan with unlimited calling, texting, and about 2 GB of data can set you back $80-$100 monthly (including taxes). If a person is low income and you can't spare much money for anything else, why would you double your cost with a landline and broadband when your cell phone can handle calls AND the internet? Have all of those things can easily set someone back $200 a month. It really has nothing to do with how far a person lives out from a switch (most poor actually live in areas that are very congested and highly urban whereas many affluent people choose to stay out in the sticks), but probably just comes down to consumption choices.
  6. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,298   +668

    Pretty much all of the pertinent data available disagrees with you. Inner city folks have a multitude of cheap Internet options, not the least of which is FREE WIFI ALMOST EVERYWHERE. Try actually researching a topic before'll appear a lot less foolish.
  7. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +137

    And you responded to absolutely zero of my points except to say free wi-fi is everywhere. That still doesn't change the fact that a) most phone plans are expensive, even prepaid ones, b) that lower income have access to the same options and phones as the rich, and c) choosing which one to go with comes down to preference. Oh, and d) people aren't going to drive around to get "free" wi-fi, especially when a lot of "free" wi-fi still requires you to have the password in order to get on the network. In addition, everyone has to go home at some point - what do you propose that the poor uses then to get on the internet since "free" wi-fi can't follow them home?

    Instead of relying on all the "pertinent data available" how about trying to do a little thinking of your own? You'll appear a lot less foolish.

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