The Digital Divide Battle Comes Home: Broadband Adoption Declines From 2013 to 2015

The Digital Divide Battle Comes Home: Broadband Adoption Declines From 2013 to 2015

ANOTHER BATTLEFRONT: Closing the digital divide by providing broadband Internet to schools is only half the battle. Students also need access at home. A recent Pew survey of over 12,000 adults suggests that broadband adoption in US homes actually declined from 70 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2015. Nearly 60 percent of those without broadband point to the subscription cost as a barrier.

At the same time, smartphone adoption increased from 55 percent to 68 percent over a similar time span. And today, 13 percent of Americans rely on smartphones for online access (and have no home broadband access)—up from 8 percent in 2013. These changes are “concentrated among lower- to middle-income households, rural households and African Americans.”

Source: Pew Research Center surveys

Relying on phones for Internet access can often be problematic, notes the Pew Research Center, since surfing the web on phones can easily push users past data-cap limits. It also notes:

The increase in “smartphone-only” adoption, along with the corresponding decline in home broadband subscriptions, captures two facets of contemporary society: rapid innovation in the information technology space and stagnant household incomes. The rate of adoption of smartphones since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 has been striking. It has taken about half the time for smartphone adoption to double from one-third of adults to two-thirds than was the case for broadband—which was also a technology adopted by Americans at very rapid pace.

Check out the full report here (PDF).

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