Between 2015 and 2019, the share of people citing the convenience of their smartphone as a reason for not accessing high speed internet at home rose dramatically, surging from just 27 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2019, according to Pew
. Still, the most common reason people cite for not having home broadband
is that it’s too expensive, though the share of people responding in this way dropped by nearly ten percentage points over the four years studied. Overall about 17 percent of all U.S. adults, identified as “smartphone-only internet users” meaning they report owning a smartphone but do not have a traditional high-speed internet connection where they live. That population has roughly doubled since 2013.
Notably the share of people who cite lack of access or unacceptable speeds as a reason for not having home broadband remained relatively the same over the four years studied, implying that the share of Americans who still can not access broadband has not improved.
The digital divide is a widely reported problem. While well-known, the actual scope of the problem is disputed. A quarter of respondents in this survey reported having slow download speeds that caused them not to purchase broadband; the FCC reported in 2018 that 8 percent of the U.S. population does not have broadband; and Microsoft, using their own internal analysis, found that nearly half of the U.S. population effectively did not have access to broadband