Woman on cellphone

Eighty-five percent of respondents to a Pew Research Center smartphone and home broadband penetration survey own smartphones and 77% have home broadband subscriptions. This compares to 81% and 73% the organization found in 2019.

Ninety-one percent of adults have one of the technologies.

The far-ranging survey – which was conducted under the direction of Abt Associates – is based on input from 1,502 adults and was conducted from January 25 to February 8.

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The survey found that 30% of adults often or sometime experience problems connecting to the Internet, with 9% reporting that the problems happen often. However, 41% say that connection troubles happen rarely and 21% say that they never experience these issues.

Home Broadband Penetration

Among the 23% that are living without a home broadband connection, Pew found that 45% say that cost is the big barrier. A lesser but still significant portion – 37% — say that the cost of a computer is the problem.

Fifteen percent of the overall U.S. adult population relies solely on smartphones. Many find that their smartphones take care of most of their online needs. Seventy-one percent of non-broadband users said that they are not interested in a home broadband connection.

Age is a big factor in smartphone use. The share of adults 65 years of age and older with a device has increased from 53% to 61% since 2019, but this number remains lower than for younger demographics.

Ownership by age declines dramatically within the older group: 71% of adults from 65 to 74 years of age own a smartphone – but only 43% of those above 74 years of age own one.

The smartphone and home broadband penetration survey found that important factors in smartphone ownership are earnings and education. Those who earn less than $30,000 per year who at most have a high school diploma are less likely to own a smartphone than those who earn more and those who have higher educational attainment.

There also are demographic disparities in home Internet. The survey found that 92% of adults who earn $75,000 or more annually have home broadband. That share falls to 57% for annual incomes below $30,000.

Another significant disparity – but one that is fading – is between rural and suburban home Internet users. The gap is 7% in the survey, which is 9% less than two years ago.

Eighty percent of White adults have home broadband, 71% of Blacks and 65% of Hispanic adults.

In June, 2019, Pew reported that 37% of Americans mostly used their smartphones to go online and smartphone-only homes had reached 17%.

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