When talking of about the growth of broadband internet, two stages are considered. First came the dial-up which was then followed by the broadband and the internet boomed. The number of Americans having one technology or the other has been fluctuating more or less as expected along the way. As more people signed up for the broadband internet, fewer people were left using the dial-up, which led to a situation known as the “digital divide” between the elderly, rural poor people and the rich, urban class.
However, this story of the rise of broadband tends to ignore a very important part of the United States internet market. It emerges that in America, there exists another group of people who are undeserved internet users. These are the people who have access to broadband internet but only through the use of their smartphones and not through the conventional wire line services like fibre, DSL or cable.
According to new data that was released by the Pew Research Centre, the number of Americans who access broadband internet from their mobile devices only has reached 10%. The majority of people in this class are the young who have never attended college and they earn an income of less than $30,000 annually. For many people, when you are out and about, it is very easy to imagine that the smartphones are just accessories or an addition to you Wi-Fi services at home but for tens of millions of United States citizens, the smartphone is their sole internet sustenance, specifically because the phones are by far much more flexible than the convectional internet connection that is fixed. However, as many people who have used smartphones know, web sites that are mobile optimized are not precisely the best ones when it comes to the functionality. In case you need to perform detail oriented tasks, for instance editing documents or filling forms, the ideal machine will be a full-size PC. Also as more commercial and government services are shifted online, being unable to access wire line broadband internet could become a problem.
The rise of internet users who access broadband internet through their mobile devices only may become another weapon in the larger debate on the question of if the era of the PC is coming to an end. Many of the smartphones being manufactured now have features that allow one to transmit the 3G or 4G internet connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This means that as the mobile data services become more efficient, tethering your smartphone to your computer might become a bona fide alternative to purchasing the conventional subscription from the ISPs. Some regions have already shown that they are perfectly okay with the idea of getting internet access through the smartphones. In accordance with the International Telecommunication Union, only 7% of the African households have fixed broadband internet and yet the broadband penetration for mobile stands at 11%, reflecting an 82% annual compound growth rate in the last three years. This means that Africa seems to be jumping the traditional wired internet in the west and going straight to the next internet technology.