Smartphones and the digital divide

“The digital divide in terms of basic Internet access is a real thing in the U.S., and a new Pew Research report shows that smartphones are emerging as an important battleground in closing the gap,” Katie Benner writes in an editorial for Bloomberg. “Phone ownership (and an affordable cellular plan) gives some of the least well-off Americans their primary access to online job searches and applications, online program enrollments, contact with friends and access to all of the information that Google [the World Wide Web – MDN Ed.] has to offer — intel and power that the constantly connected might take for granted.”

“Pew says the groups most likely to depend on smartphones for connectivity include younger adults, low-income families, people without college degrees and black and Latino citizens,” Benner writes. “Battles over Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity — connection quality and speed, corporate monopolies and pricing — aren’t just the business concerns of companies like Google and Verizon. They impact a lot more than our ability to watch House of Cards on our iPhones. It’s good to remember that cell phone connection issues are battles that directly impact some of the country’s most vulnerable people and that small shifts in pricing and policy can increase or cut off access to an important tool.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The good news is that, in the U.S., smartphone saturation has prompted a battle among carriers to offer more data at better prices, benefitting every demographic.


  1. In the US, Sprint and T-Mobile have begun to offer more data at better prices, but Verizon and AT&T have not.

    2GB of data from Verizon and AT&T costs the same today as it did 5 years ago. Yes, they have begun to offer 3GB, 5GB, and 10GB plans, so the “more data” part is true, but they haven’t dropped prices at all, so the “better prices” part is not. At AT&T and Verizon the prices are still ridiculously high and the caps are criminally low. 3GB is a night or two of youtube vids, no way should that be the cap for the entire month. If we have to have AT&T and Verizon data caps, 250GB/month for $40 should be the minimum reasonable amount of data-per-dollar, and if that’s ever going to happen it’s going to happen because the government forced them to.

    1. No, Verizon and AT&T will change there plans because of Sprint and T-Mobile. The changes we have seen now are because of T-Mobile. Customers were dropping AT&T and Verizon and moving to T-Mobile because of the better deals. The migration was significant enough that both AT&T and Verizon started to offer simplified options. Now Sprint has jumped into the game we should see further shifts.

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