Share of Americans with Broadband at Home Has Plateaued

Pew Research Center[Press Release]

Share of Americans With Broadband at Home has Plateaued
More rely only on their smartphones for internet access

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 21, 2015) – Home broadband adoption stands at 67% of Americans, down slightly from 70% in 2013, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. This small, but statistically significant, difference moves home broadband adoption to where it was in 2012.

The survey finds an increase in the share of adults who are considered “smartphone only” in that they have a smartphone, but lack broadband service at home. Some 13% of Americans are “smartphone only” in 2015 – up from 8% in 2013. Some of the most significant changes in these adoption patterns are taking place among African Americans, those with relatively low household incomes and those living in rural areas.

Overall, “advanced internet access”– those with either a smartphone or a home broadband subscription – has changed little since 2013. Some 80% of adults have either a smartphone or home broadband today, compared with 78% who said this in 2013. Still, Pew Research findings show that those who are especially dependent on smartphones sometimes face challenges in some online activities, such as applying for jobs.

“Those who are ‘smartphone dependent’ for access encounter distinct challenges,” said John Horrigan, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center. “If they have both kinds of access, most people prefer to use their smartphone for getting in touch with family or friends but prefer a device that uses a home broadband connection for watching video. At the same time, many ‘smartphone only’ users sometimes struggle to do some of the things they want to do online.”

The new data also contain one other insight about the shifting connection patterns of adults: 15% of adults are now “cord cutters” in that they have abandoned paid cable or satellite television service. Many of them say that the availability of television content and other video sources online are a factor in their shift away from subscription television services.

Survey findings on barriers to broadband adoption, how people view lack of broadband as a disadvantage, and cord cutting are based on a national telephone survey of 2,001 Americans age 18 or older conducted between June 10 and July 12, 2015. Comparison of 2013 and 2015 results for broadband and “smartphone only” adoption are based on a September 2013 survey of 6,010 adults and a combined analysis of surveys conducted March 17 – April 12, 2015, (1,934 adult respondents); June 10 – July 12, 2015, (2,001 respondents); and Oct. 13 – Nov. 15, 2015, (2,752 respondents) for a total of 6,687 respondents used in the analysis.

Among the main findings:
More people now say home broadband access is important

· 69% of Americans indicate that not having a home high-speed internet connection would be a major disadvantage to finding a job, getting health information or accessing other key information – up from 56% who said this in 2010.

· Among non-broadband adopters, 33% cite the monthly cost of service as the main reason they lack broadband at home, with an additional 10% citing the cost of a computer as their main reason for not having broadband service.

Non-broadband users now show a strong appreciation of the importance of home internet service in ways they did not five years ago. In 2010 and 2015, Pew Research Center asked Americans whether they thought being without a home broadband connection was a major disadvantage in several different topical areas. There has been a substantial increase over that period in the share of adults who say not having a home high-speed connection is a major disadvantage when looking for job opportunities, accessing government information as well as in other areas.

· Today 65% of non-adopters say lacking home broadband service is a major disadvantage in at least one of these areas, compared 48% who said so in 2010. Specifically:

o 40% of non-high speed internet users say being without broadband is a major disadvantage for learning about or accessing government services, compared with 25% who said this in 2010.

o 37% say lacking broadband at home is a major disadvantage for learning new things that might enrich their lives, up from 23% who said this in 2010.

15% of adults now qualify as “cord cutters” – those who have abandoned paid cable or satellite television service. Another 9% never had either cable or satellite service.

· 19% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 are cord cutters, and 16% of these young adults say they have never had a paid TV service.

· 71% of cord cutters say they cut the cord in part because the cost of cable or satellite service is too expensive, while 64% say they did because they can access the content they want using an over-air antenna, on the internet, or using streaming services.

Large numbers of non-broadband households have never had home high-speed internet in the past, and few have interest in subscribing in the future.

· 33% of American adults do not have broadband at home. Within this group of non-adopters:

o 36% had a subscription in the past.

o 59% say they have never had a broadband subscription plan at home.

o 25% are interested in subscribing to broadband service in the future, while 70% say they are not interested in doing so.

· 40% of non-adopters who have had service in the past or are interested in subscribing in the future, say the monthly cost of a subscription is the most important reason they lack service currently.

· However, 25% of those who are “hard to reach” – meaning they have never had broadband service and express no interest in having it in the future – say cost is the most important barrier to adoption.

Read the report:
For more information or to arrange an interview, please call 202.419.4372 or send an email to

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. The center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *