DATA: African Americans are less likely to have broadband at home
Honoring Black History Month
By Jessica Denson, Communications Director
Bowling Green, (February 15, 2021) - This month, Connected Nation, like many groups and individuals around the country, is taking time to mark Black History Month. It is a time to not only celebrate Black history makers but also to examine critical issues that impact African American communities.
Connected Nation’s mission as a national nonprofit is rooted in work to close the Digital Divide. That requires understanding who lacks access to broadband (high-speed internet) and why.
According to the Pew Research Center*, African Americans are less likely to subscribe to home broadband service (66%, compared to 73% nationally). This is high-speed internet that can be used on a laptop, desktop, or iPad.
In addition, the population is more likely to be smartphone-only internet users than other groups. Right now, 23% of Blacks use only their smartphones compared to 17% nationally.
Pew researchers did ask why smartphone-only internet users were not subscribing to broadband internet. The top answer? The cost of a broadband subscription is too expensive. However, that number now sits at 50% of smartphone-only internet users, down from 59% in 2015 who said the cost was too much.
Other reasons for not subscribing to home broadband include: smartphone does everything you need (45%; up from 27% in 2015); other options for internet access available outside the home (43%; down from 46% in 2015); cost of computer is too expensive (31%; down from 45% in 2015); and service is not available or speed is unacceptable (22%; a change from 23% in 2015).
Unfortunately, the research does not break down the “why” by ethic groups. But, if a larger number of African Americans are smartphone-only internet users compared to overall national numbers, then it’s not hard to draw the line to a need for more affordable broadband access programs within the Black community.
Imagine trying to apply for a job or write a report for school using only a smartphone, and those are only two on a long list of benefits attached to having better internet access.
We must do better as a country to help Black community members—and others who are stuck in the Digital Divide—access the resources available through broadband.
Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
Other Black History Month Articles
- Giving Voice: social media usage in the black community
- PODCAST: From the President's helicopter to fighter jets—meet the black woman behind some top secret tech programs
- Meet "The Fairy Godmother of Tech Start-ups"
- Building equal experiences
- African Americans who have worked to advance technology for all
- African American history maker in tech: Roy L. Clay
- Moving the needle: Closing the internet access gap among African Americans