Mobile Broadband Paves The Way For The Poor

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Cecilia Kang writes about how for many low-income Americans, the smartphone and mobile broadband plan are the primary means of internet access. What’s interesting is that this is even truer if you look at the global poor. Matt Cameron threw together the relevant datasets from the International Telecommunications Union and offers this chart:

The conventional interpretation I’ve heard of this global data is that it reflects the difficulty of building wired infrastructure in countries with dysfunctional governments. The popularity of wireless broadband among the low income domestic U.S. population casts, I think, a bit of doubt on that. It just seems to be the case that even though computer-with-internet-connection was invented before smartphone-with-broadband-plan, income-constrained consumers who want to pick one prefer the phone.