Pew: 7 of 10 Adults Have High-Speed Connection

Wireless Narrows Digital Divide, but May Not Count as Broadband: Study
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WASHINGTON — About 70% of U.S. adults (aged 18 or over) have a high-speed broadband connection at home — a number that’s closer to 80% when factoring in wireless broadband over smartphones, according to a new study.

That means just 20% have neither wired nor wireless broadband as of May 2013, according to the latest survey results from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

As in previous surveys, the highest rates of home broadband adoption continue to be among urban whites, college graduates, those under 50 and those who earn $50,000 per year or more.

The study also found that more than half of all Americans (56%) now have smartphones that "may" offer an alternative to wired Internet access. The survey also found that one in 10 respondents with a smartphone had no home high-speed broadband connection.

When those users are factored in, about 80% of adult Americans have some type of Internet access available at home other than low-speed, dial-up service.

Wireless is helping to bridge the digital divide between white consumers and minority groups, the survey suggested.  

"While blacks and Latinos are less likely to have access to home broadband than whites, factoring in their use of smartphones nearly eliminates that broadband 'gap,' Pew said.

But the jury is still out as to wireless — which has yet to match wired broadband in terms of connection speeds — is a suitable substitute. "[I]t is unclear whether 3G or 4G smartphones qualify as ‘broadband’ speed, or if smartphones can otherwise offer the same utility to users as a dedicated high-speed home Internet connection," the study authors said, explaining why smartphone users didn’t fall within their definition of a broadband user.

Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted the telephone survey of 2,252 adults 18 or older between April 17 and May 19. Its margin of error was 2.5 percentage points for the full study group and 2.3 points for Internet users.