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70% of US homes have broadband

August 27, 2013

Some 70 per cent of American adults ages 18 and older have a high-speed broadband connection at home as of May 2013, according to a nationally representative survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The survey also found that 3 per cent of American adults go online at home via dial-up connections.

As found in previous research, groups with the highest rates of home broadband adoption continue to be college graduates, adults under age 50, and adults living in households earning at least $50,000, as well as whites and adults living in urban or suburban areas.

“We’ve consistently found that age, education, and household income are among the strongest factors associated with home broadband adoption,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Associate for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and lead author of the report. “Many dial-up users cite cost and access as the main reasons they don’t have broadband, but for adults who don’t use the Internet at all, a lack of interest is often the main issue.”

Eight in ten adults have either home broadband or a smartphone

In recent years internet-connected mobile devices such as smartphones have exploded in popularity; smartphones are now owned by more than half of all American adults (56 per cent), and may offer an alternate form of “home” Internet access. In fact, this survey found that one in ten Americans owns a smartphone but do not have a high-speed broadband connection at home.

However, it is unclear whether 3G or 4G smartphones qualify as “broadband” speed, or if smartphones can otherwise offer the same utility to users as a dedicated high-speed home Internet connection. For these reasons, smartphones are qualitatively distinct enough that we do not include them in our standard definition of what constitutes a “broadband user.”

At the same time, smartphones do offer a potential source of online access to individuals who might otherwise lack the ability to go online at all from within the home, even if that access is somewhat limited in comparison. When smartphone owners are added to home broadband users, the proportion of Americans with some sort of “home” internet access other than dial-up reaches 80 per cent:

– 70 per cent of American adults have a high-speed broadband connection at home
– 10 per cent of Americans lack home broadband but do own a smartphone
– 20 per cent of Americans have neither a home broadband connection nor a smartphone

“Broadband users can consume and create many types of content in ways that dial-up users cannot, and our research has long shown major differences in these two groups’ online behavior,” said Aaron Smith, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of the report. “Smartphones may offer an additional avenue for internet access that surpasses the dial-up experience in many ways, but those who rely on them for home internet use may face limitations that are not shared by those with traditional broadband connections.”

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