While high-speed internet is increasingly the standard Americans expect to live by, it isn’t quite the reality for all U.S. adults. CivicScience has long tracked internet access data to see if Americans are still largely reliant on broadband connections, or if adults are pursuing alternatives to more traditional high-speed internet.

In CivicScience’s most recent study exploring internet access one year ago, just over 60% of U.S. adults reported having a high-speed broadband connection from a cable or phone provider like Verizon Fios or Comcast XFINITY. According to the latest CivicScience data, that figure has dipped slightly (from 61% to 59%) since February 2022. 

Although the percentage of Americans who don’t have any home internet access is still in the low single digits (5%), there’s been a slight increase in adults relying primarily on a fixed WiFi service like Rise Broadband or Verizon LTE Home Internet (up to 9% from 7%).

Perhaps in light of economic pressures throughout the past year, Americans have adjusted their internet habits. Those reporting to be ‘worse off’ than before the COVID-19 pandemic within the past year are the most likely of all home internet users to use fixed, satellite, or DSL service. On the other side of the coin, Americans reporting to be financially better off compared to before the pandemic are the least likely among all internet users to have high-speed broadband service – and are by far the most likely to use cellular data or a mobile hotspot as their preferred method to access the web.

This is likely related to age. Adults under age 30 are the most likely to report they are financially better off now than before the pandemic. The majority of this age group also uses forms of internet other than broadband. More than one-third of Gen Z adults rely primarily on mobile cellular data, far surpassing any other age group in usage.

Despite the decreased reliance on broadband internet at home, American internet users are actually reporting similarly reliable internet coverage as they were at this time last year (48% this year claim it’s ‘very reliable’ compared to 47% last year).

While there’s still a sizable gap between urban and rural internet reliability, both types of area saw a jump in reliability since last year. Rural areas are up to 46% ‘very reliable’ from 42% reporting the same last year – and the percentage reporting ‘not at all’ reliable in rural areas is also down from last year.

So at least for now, the regional access gap is closing a tiny bit, and the difference in internet service preferences hasn’t had a negative impact on the quality of access. CivicScience will continue to monitor how Americans are accessing the internet and the disparity in internet reliability across demographic divides. Interested in more insights about tech adoption habits specific to your consumers? Let’s chat.