Some 63% of adult Americans have broadband internet connections at home, according to the April 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This figure compares with 55% recorded a year earlier and the eight percentage point increase translates into a 15% growth rate from May 2008 to May 2009. The growth rate is comparable to those recorded in the past three years.
Although growth in the past year differs little from the March 2007-April 2008 timeframe, the latest broadband figure marks a departure from sluggish growth in broadband adoption for the latter part of 2007 and much of 2008. Pew Internet Project surveys over the twelve month period starting in December 2007 showed broadband adoption as follows:
- 54% of adults with broadband at home in December 2007.
- 55% of adults with broadband at home in April 2008.
- 57% of adults with broadband at home in August 2008.
- 57% of adults with broadband at home in December 2008.
The April 2009 survey interviewed 2,253 adult Americans, including 561 who were interviewed on their cell. The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus two percentage points for results based on the entire sample. The survey contained 1,332 respondents with high-speed internet connections at home and the margin of error for results based on home broadband users is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The data points above for December 2007 and December 2008 both come from surveys with cell phone numbers included in the sample.
With five out of eight of Americans now connecting to the internet at home with a high-speed internet connection, dial-up access is the at-home onramp to the internet for only 7% of adults, half the level of two years ago.
The 63% home high-speed adoption figure occurs in the context of 79% of American adults identifying themselves as internet users in the April 2009 survey, with 72% of adults saying they go online from home. This means that, among adults who go online from home, 87% connect using some sort of broadband internet connection.
Here are trends in broadband adoption, as a share of all adult Americans, from 2000 to 2009.
The broadband adoption figure of 55% from our 2008 report came from a sample of respondents that did not include individuals interviewed on cell phone, unlike the 2009 sample. The difference in sampling may have an impact on a 2008-2009 comparison, since those reached on cell phones may have systematically different broadband adoption habits than those reached on landline phones. Analysis of the effect of including cell respondents in the April 2009 survey indicates that this may increase the figure for home broadband adoption by 2 percentage points. In other words, absent cell phone respondents in the sample, 61% of Americans would be found to have broadband at home.
The Pew Internet Project is now conducting all its surveys with cell phone numbers included in the sample. The latest data from the Center for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey show that 20% of American homes are cell-only. Including cell phone numbers in samples increases the number of younger respondents, minority respondents and low-income respondents that are collected in a survey and therefore makes the raw sample more representative of the general population.