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Research

Recent Tech Adoption Trends and Implications for the Digital Divide
John B. Horrigan, Ph.D.
August 2012

In recent years, there have been two developments in technology adoption that are in tension with one another. On the one hand, home broadband adoption has increased only modestly since 2009. On the other, there has been a very rapid increase the adoption of Smartphones. This development presents questions for policymakers and stakeholders interested in the digital divide, namely: Does the leveling off of home broadband adoption and accompanying growth in Smartphone adoption represent a substitution effect? That is, are those without broadband at home simply turning to Smartphones instead and, if so, how does their Internet use relate to that of broadband users? Understanding the answers to these questions will be important to policymakers and those in the private sector interested in closing technology access gaps. To address the questions, this paper will rely on data drawn from a statewide telephone survey of Illinois residents fielded in February-March of 2012. The survey explored in detail how people get online (e.g., home broadband, tablets, Smartphones), what online activities they do (e.g., information searches, shopping, educational uses), and how they view the usefulness of different access means for carrying out tasks online.

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