NTIA survey: More Americans using wireless internet at home

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The next generation of internet users is here, and more are untethered, according to new data Tuesday from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which shows Americans are moving from wired to mobile broadband on a variety of devices.

Households using wired internet at home dropped by almost a tenth in 2013-15, while those who exclusively used mobile service doubled, according to the Census Bureau’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, which includes NTIA-collected data from July 2015.

Last year, 75 percent of surveyed homeowners used wired internet, a “sizable drop” compared to 2013’s 82 percent, despite wired connections offering the fastest, most reliable connection, according to an NTIA blogpost on the survey. In the same timeframe, households who used only mobile data increased from 10 percent to 20.

“The growth in online households that reported only using mobile Internet service to go online at home appears to have come at the expense of wired broadband connections,” NTIA said in the blog post. 

Those who exclusively used mobile data at home were usually low-income households, NTIA said, especially among houses with less than $25,000 income. But increased usage of mobile Internet was noticeable across social sectors and income brackets.

“These results suggest that although wired Internet service continued to be the preferred mode of home Internet use in 2015 among those most likely to be able to afford it, the use of mobile data plans is clearly becoming more popular across demographics,” NTIA said.

Tuesday’s analysis also confirmed many people’s thoughts on trends in internet devices – 53 percent of Americans own a mobile phone with internet access, while 45 percent did in 2013. Home desktops dropped 6 percent from 2013 to 34 percent, while 29 percent use tablets last year. Laptop usage stayed the same since 2013, at about 46 percent.

Since December, NTIA has been analyzing the 53,000- person survey on how different types of Americans use the internet. In past analyses, they dissected other ways internet usage has changed, like the increase in use by children, the elderly, and less educated.

Contact the reporter on this story via email: Jeremy.Snow@FedScoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyM_Snow. Sign up for the Daily Scoop — all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning — here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Census Bureau, Commerce Department, Departments, mobile and wireless, Mobile Devices, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Tech, Wireless Networks
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