Smartphone ownership (85%) and home broadband subscriptions (77%) have increased among American adults since 2019 – from 81% and 73% respectively. Though modest, both increases are statistically significant and come at a time when a majority of Americans say the internet has been important to them personally. And 91% of adults report having at least one of these technologies.
A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021, also finds that some Americans have difficulties when trying to go online. Some 30% of adults say they often or sometimes experience problems connecting to the internet at home, including 9% who say such problems happen often. Still, a majority of Americans say these connection troubles occur rarely (41%) or never (21%).
I’m always interested in what they find out about who isn’t online…
While a growing share of Americans say they have a high-speed internet subscription at home, 23% do not.
Financial barriers are among the more common reasons why Americans do not subscribe to high-speed internet at home: 45% of non-broadband users say a reason is that the monthly cost of a subscription is too expensive, while about four-in-ten cite the cost of a computer as too expensive.
Similar shares of non-broadband users say a reason is they have other options for internet access outside of home (46%) or their smartphone lets them do everything online that they need to do (45%). A smaller share of Americans (25%) say they do not have a home subscription because broadband service is not available where they live or not available at an acceptable speed.
Some 27% of adults – up from 17% in 2019 – say they do not have broadband at home for some other reason, including 11% who say it is because they are not interested, do not care for it or do not need it.
Broadband non-adopters were asked which, among the reasons they mentioned, was the most important reason they did not have a broadband subscription at home.2 Some 27% of non-broadband users say the most important reason for not having broadband at home is cost – including 20% who say a monthly broadband subscription is too expensive and 7% who say a computer is too expensive.