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Pew: More adults using cell phones, wireless laptops to go online

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 30, 2010

BlackBerry cell phone

Photos: AT&T, Verizon

An increasing percentage of people in the United States is taking advantage of cell phone and wireless laptop access to the internet. According to the results of a Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project survey released in July 2010, 59 percent of adult respondents said they access the internet with a wireless system through a cell phone or laptop computer. In 2009, 51 percent of survey respondents said they accessed the internet with a wireless system through a cell phone or laptop computer.

In the last year, 47 percent of adults said they went online with a laptop WiFi connection or a mobile broadband card. This represents an increase compared to 39 percent who said they did that in April 2009; 40 percent said they access the internet, email or instant messaging on a mobile phone compared with 32 percent who said they did that in 2009.

Verizon and ZTE USA AD3700 USB modem

People are also using non voice phone applications more than in the past. More people are taking pictures, 76 percent compared to 66 in April 2009; 72 percent send or receive text messages compared to 65 percent in 2009; 38 percent access the internet compared to 25 percent in 2009; 34 percent play games compared to 27 percent in 2009; 34 percent send or receive email compared to 25 percent in 2009; 34 percent said they record a video compared to 19 percent in 2009; 33 percent said they play music compared to 21 percent in 2009; and 30 percent send or receive instant messages compared to 20 percent in 2009.

Contrary to a recent Pew Hispanic Center report that indicated Latinos lag behind in their use of technology compared to the general population (see Latinos lag behind in use of technology compared to non Latinos), in this survey researchers concluded that African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos, remain among the most active users of these technologies. The Pew Hispanic Center report included Spanish dominant Latinos while this one only mentioned English speaking Latinos. More African-Americans and Latinos, 87 percent, own cell phones than whites 80, according to the survey responses.

They also use more of their phone’s features compared with white mobile phone owners. This year more African-Americans (64 percent) said they access the internet from a laptop or mobile phone, compared to 57 percent who said they did in 2009.

“The Hispanic consumer market is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. and is very attractive to wireless providers, not just in terms of growing population but also in terms of usage. Hispanics over-index in almost every category: They use more minutes, they make more long-distance calls, they text more, and they download more ringtones” said Kelly Starling, spokesperson, AT&T.

The report, Mobile Access 2010, released July 7, 2010 is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans’ use of the internet. The data is from telephone interviews, in English, of 2,252 adults 18 years old and older conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010.