Home broadband use has plateaued, and smartphone only Internet access is on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center's 2015 survey results on Internet usage in the United States.

According to the nonpartisan fact tank's findings, which collected data from 6,687 respondents over the course of one year, more people are opting for using their smartphones if they need Internet access in the comfort of their own home. The result? Home broadband use is plateauing, with only 67 percent of Internet users logging in with a domestic, nonmobile account — a slight downtick from 70 percent of users in 2013. The stats could be troublesome news to traditional and/or broadband Internet providers — and their current business models — nationwide.

The Pew report singled out "three notable changes" in Internet use that are essentially interconnected through cause-and-effect: that as the number of users who only access the Internet with a smartphone has increased, the number of new home broadband subscribers has decreased, resulting in flatlined home broadband use. The reason for this? As per the study, "those who own a smartphone that they can use to access the Internet, but do not have traditional broadband service at home," with 13 percent of Americans claiming themselves as "smartphone-only." That's up from 8 percent in 2013.

And the third change, the survey noted, is that 15 percent of American adults are self-proclaimed "cord cutters," meaning they have ditched traditional TV cable services, both network and digital, instead opting for nontraditional modes of entertainment such as streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix, which offer the same (or same quality) programs for comparatively little, or even free.

However, there's a downside for the smartphone-only set: those who rely solely on mobile Wi-Fi rather than "advanced Internet access" (i.e., both mobile Wi-Fi and home broadband) are more likely to rack up higher charges or push against data caps, as well as have higher rates of suspended service due to budgetary issues. (And as the Pew study put it, "price sensitivity — where the monthly cost of service is the chief barrier to adoption — is most prominent among those who have had service in the past, and/or are interested in getting it in the future.")

Source: Pew Research Center

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