- 44% of households with an income under $30,000 don’t have broadband
- Lower-income Americans are relying more on smartphones for internet access
- However, 29% of lower-income Americans don’t even own a smartphone
Just 56% of low-income Americans have access to broadband at home, a study has warned.
A shocking Pew Research Center study revealed new digital divide data that found over 44% of U.S. households with an income of less than $30,000 a year don’t have home broadband services.
It shines new light on an ever increasing issue — a huge chunk of America is unable to get online.
With everything from applying to jobs to education increasingly relying on digital technology, many warn it will lead to major problems for America’s poor.
While recent FCC figures claim the gap is shrinking, the Pew digital divide data finds a widening split based on those who are able to pay for it.
The Pew study also found 29% of low-income adults don’t own a smartphone — which many use to get online — and 46% don’t own a traditional computer.
By comparison, families with an income of over $100,000 or more a year almost all have access to broadband, smartphones and computers, with the majority having multiple devices.
Roughly two-thirds of adults living in high-earning households (64%) have home broadband services, a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet, compared with 18% of those living in lower-income households.
Researchers also found that the number of Americans who rely on a smartphone for internet access is increasing dramatically, having almost doubled since 2013.
It found 26% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent” internet users — meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home.
This represents a substantial increase from 12% in 2013.
In contrast, only 5% of those living in households earning $100,000 or more fall into this category in 2019.
The divide is even sharper in rural areas, according to the Pew figures.
Roughly two-thirds of rural Americans (63%) say they have a broadband internet connection at home, up from about a third (35%) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2019.
However, the FCC claims it is making progress.
The nation’s digital divide is narrowing as more Americans than ever have access to high-speed broadband, according to the FCC’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report.
It shows the number of Americans lacking access to a terrestrial fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC’s benchmark of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million Americans at the end of 2017, a decrease of more than 18%.
However, the methodology used in the report has been called into question, and a major overhaul of the system is in place.