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Study Finds U.S. Broadband Subscriptions Are Down

December 22, 2015 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

Pew Research Center has published the results of its study regarding internet usage patterns among US residents that seems to show broadband subscriptions have gone down in the country over the past couple of years. Observers seem to attribute that decline to the increasing number of people who are said to be using their smartphones as their primary mode of connecting to the web. While mobile web traffic is increasing with every passing year, broadband seems to have hit a bit of a rut of late, if the study is anything to go by. The data, according to Pew, is derived from surveying over 2,000 adults in the United States. Unlike in 2013, when 70 percent of respondents claimed to have wireline broadband connections (ADSL/Cable/Fiber) at home, only 67 percent of respondents this time around admitted to having that facility.

What’s even more interesting is that as many as thirteen percent of all respondents claimed that their smartphones were their only means of staying connected to the web, and they didn’t actually subscribe to wired broadband of any description. People from low income families, those living in rural areas and African Americans are more likely to fall in that category, according to the study. Meanwhile, eighty percent of respondents claimed to have ‘advanced internet access’ at home, meaning, they’re either hooked up to the internet through traditional broadband or via cellular connectivity. This compares well with the study conducted in the year 2013, when around seventy-eight percent of respondents claimed to have ‘advanced internet access’ at home.

According to industry observers, the near ubiquity of LTE networks across the length and breadth of the country is allowing more and more people to use their cellular connections as their preferred method of staying connected. However, while the ever-expanding smartphone displays are allowing people to surf the net with a bit more freedom than was possible till even a couple of years ago, Pew says that people who’re dependent on smartphones for accessing the internet still face some unique challenges, unlike their counterparts sitting in front of their desktops and laptops. According to the Washington-based research center, such people are “more likely than other users to run up against data-cap limits that often accompany smartphone service plans”.

Not only that, the organization also claims that individuals who’re unable to afford a broadband connection at home are also more likely to “cancel or suspend service due to financial constraints. Additionally, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that those who use digital tools for job searches face challenges when it comes to key tasks such as filling out job applications and writing cover letters”. The research also found that as many as fifteen percent of respondents have done away with their monthly cable television subscriptions, thanks to the availability of a lot of the television shows on the internet.