US Consumers Rejecting Home Broadband In Favour of Mobiles

An interesting survey of US broadband consumers in the USA showed some interesting results recently. The Pew Research centre found that 80% of US adults have access to the Internet now, which is increasing slowly because presumably most people in the US who want access already have it, however there is a decline in the people using home broadband.

This is interesting. Home broadband users in the USA declined in the last two years from 70% to 67%. During the same period of time the percentage of adults only using a phone for Internet access rose from 8% to 13%.

It’s not clear if these results are correlated, but it looks that way, however I believe there is a more complicated picture and what is playing out in the USA right now may be something to watch for in Europe in 2016.

Everyone knows that landlines are obsolete for many people now that mobile phones are ubiquitous. To many young people, the idea of calling a building is amusing and doesn’t connect to the idea of calling a person at all so it’s easy to understand why so many people no longer bother with a landline, but these new observations are a little more unusual.

It’s understandable that many people use their phone as their primary window on the Internet. It’s where social networks are updated, news is followed, and most of the general updates and interactions take place, but the home broadband line – whether it is cable or copper – has a different role.

Increasingly all home entertainment, security, and utility control is being routed over the Internet at home. Spotify for streaming music, Netflix for movies, TV services (that were previously routed via cable), CCTV cameras for when the homeowner is away, and as the Internet of Things becomes more common it will increasingly be normal to control many home functions – devices, lights, heating etc… – using the home broadband network.

Therefore the home broadband network is becoming much more of an essential utility, representing far more than just an Internet connection for a PC in the house. It’s becoming difficult to imagine a home in 2016 that is completely disconnected, unless there is no requirement for any kind of entertainment at all.

If Americans are rejecting the home broadband connection because they feel it is too expensive to maintain when they already have Internet on their phone then the networks need to ask questions about how their services are being utilised and how much they are charging. Are prices really too high or is it just that some consumers are not yet using the Internet for most of their entertainment requirements?

Whatever is taking place in the US, it is worth watching out for similar trends in the UK. As the networks have started competing much more on content and the value of having their service piped into the home, rather than just on technical aspects such as the network speed, attention needs to be focused on whether consumers agree with what the industry strategists believe should be happening?

What do you think of these US broadband trends? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.


Photo by Sean MacEntee licensed under Creative Commons.

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