Forget about dial-up or broadband. The Pew Research Center finds that fully 10 percent of U.S. users have no wire-line access to the Internet at all and depend solely on their smartphones as their only window to the Internet.
The Washington Post reports
this 10 percent is made up primarily of young people who have never attended college and make less than U.S.$30,000 a year. Still, they are able to access the Internet for a variety of tasks whether at home or on the go. And many could actually be tethering their laptops to their smartphone, a trend that could eventually make traditional wired broadband access a thing of the past.
Yankee Group Senior Analyst Rich Karpinski comments
“This number isn't surprising at all, and their characteristics track with what we've heard from the mostly prepaid operators serving this demographic. And indeed a smartphone and value-priced prepaid plan—often coming in at around U.S.$40 for unlimited voice, text and unlimited (but throttled) data—is a good deal. This group of users isn't looking for just basic service either. Cricket, for instance, has gathered strong momentum with its Muve music service
targeting just this type of user. The conundrum has always been that such customers can't necessarily afford the high out-of-pocket costs of a fully unsubsidized (U.S.$600-plus) high-end smartphone, a reality that has helped drive first device financing and now zero-down early upgrade programs into the market. They may represent only a small sliver of users today, but their requirements are helping to influence the shape of the U.S. mobile market.”