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Pew Research: U.S. Household Broadband Adoption Slips

22 Dec, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Households getting high-speed broadband access dipped to 67% penetration in 2015, compared with 70% in 2013, according to new data from Pew Research Center. The data suggests domestic broadband penetration has dropped to 2012 levels.

The culprit: smartphones.

More Americans are using Internet-enabled mobile phones for their online access and surfing. The number of households with smartphones and no broadband increased to 13% from 8% in 2013. In fact, the percentage of households with a smartphone (68%) has exceeded broadband.

Overall, about 80% of households have a smartphone or broadband this year, compared with 78% in 2013, according to a nationwide telephone survey of 2,001 Americans (18+) between June 10 and July 12.

Notably, the increase in Internet access via portable media devices means more households are taxing monthly data limits if streaming video via a third-party subscription service.

Pew found that among non-broadband adopters, one-third attributed the cost of high-speed Internet for dropping service. Another 10% cited the cost of a home computer. 

The research saw the largest drop (8%) in African-American broadband households, rural (5%) and households with income less than $20,000. These same demos saw the greatest increase in smartphone adoption.

Pew found that 33% of respondents said they did not have broadband — with 36% of this group saying they had high-speed access in the past. Nearly 60% never had broadband in the home. Indeed, 70% of non-adopters said they are not interested in getting broadband.

Interestingly, 69% of respondents also said not having broadband was detrimental to accessing information such as news, health care, employment and government services, among others — up from 56% in 2010.

Separately, Pew found that 15% of U.S. households have dropped (cord-cut) pay-TV service, citing less-expensive online access to video programming (i.e. Netflix) as the main reason. When combined with “cord-nevers,” 24% of U.S. households do not have pay-TV service.

Among this demo, cost (71%), alternative access via portable devices (64%) and infrequent TV viewing (46%) were the principle reasons for eschewing pay-TV service. 



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