Pew: 26% of US adults who earn under $30K/year are 'smartphone only' internet users

Americans who are poor increasingly use mobile phones as their primary way to go online.

A new Pew study shows that 26% of American adults who earn less than $30,000 a year are "smartphone only" internet users — meaning they don't use a laptop or desktop computer, in addition to, say, their mobile phone.

A mere 6% of Americans who earn $75,000 and up are "smartphone only."

The Pew study found that a total of "37% of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone, and these devices are increasingly cited as a reason for not having a high-speed internet connection at home."

An excerpt from the research overview:

Today, 37% of U.S. adults say they mostly use a smartphone when accessing the internet. This share has nearly doubled since 2013, when the Center last asked this question. At that point, 19% of Americans named their smartphone as their primary device for going online.1

Younger adults are especially likely to reach for their phones when going online. Fully 58% of 18-to 29-year-olds say they mostly go online through a smartphone, up from 41% in 2013. Still, this growth is evident across all age groups. For example, the share of adults ages 30 to 49 who say they mostly use a smartphone to go online has nearly doubled – from 24% in 2013 to 47% today.

Indeed, mobile devices are not simply being used more often to go online – some Americans are forgoing traditional broadband at home altogether in favor of their smartphone. A majority of adults say they subscribe to home broadband, but about one-in-four (27%) do not. And growing shares of these non-adopters cite their mobile phone as a reason for not subscribing to these services.

Among non-broadband users, 45% say they do not have broadband at home because their smartphone lets them do everything they need to do online, up from 27% in 2015. At the same time, the share of non-broadband users who say their smartphone is the most important reason for not having a high-speed internet connection where they live has nearly doubled over the same time period (from 12% to 23%). And while affordability remains a commonly cited barrier, the share of non-broadband adopters who say the cost of a monthly subscription is the most important reason for not having these services has fallen from 33% in 2015 to 21% today.

In addition, 80% of these non-broadband users say they are not interested in getting high-speed connections at home.

These patterns underscore the reliance that a minority of Americans have on their smartphone for internet access. Some 17% of U.S. adults are "smartphone-only internet users" – meaning they report owning a smartphone but do not have a traditional high-speed internet connection where they live. This share has roughly doubled since 2013, when 8% of adults fell into this category.

The Pew Research Center conducted a telephone survey of 1,502 U.S. adults between Jan. 8 – Feb. 7, 2019. Here are the findings: Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019

A few of the Pew infographics follow. One takeaway I see here?

It's an awful time to be in the business of selling home broadband service to consumers.

[PHOTO: CC0 Public Domain]