Mobile Broadband in Nevada: Access At Home or On the Go

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1 March 2013

2 Without a doubt, cell phones and mobile Internet service have changed the way that people stay in touch and access the web. The Brookings Institute anticipates that by 2015 there will be 3.1 billion mobile broadband subscribers globally, nearly four times the number of fixed broadband subscribers. 1 The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that as of April 2012, 88% of U.S. adults owned a cell phone, and more than half of these cell phone owners (55%) use their phones to go online. Nevadans have also adopted cell phones and mobile Internet service as a means to stay in touch, helping them to stay connected both inside and outside of the home. Mobile broadband, which allows users to connect to the Internet on a cell phone or other mobile device, can further enhance Nevadans connectivity by allowing them to access online applications such as social media, e-health, online banking, research applications, and online shopping, regardless of their locations. This increase in mobile usage can have many positive implications. According to a 2011 report by Deloitte, U.S. investment in mobile 4G broadband networks could result in GDP growth of up to $151 billion and up to 771,000 new jobs nationally. 2 Mobile phones can help entrepreneurs by providing wider access to market information, capital, new customers, and trade areas; empowering women and other disadvantaged groups to start their own businesses; and making it easier to run business through applications such as mobile payments. 3 Mobile devices can additionally help through e-health applications that assist with chronic disease management, medication schedules, and medical system efficiency. 4 These devices can also help more people participate in local, state, and national politics through outreach, fundraising, media coverage, and by ensuring government accountability. 5 The importance of mobile broadband is clear, and the United States is pushing for mobile access and innovation. As part of its Mobility Fund Phase 1 auction, in 2012 the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded Nevada wireless provider Commnet more than $21 million to build out its mobile wireless broadband coverage in eight counties across the state. 6 Connect Nevada has been following mobile broadband adoption and usage since its inception. As part of its 2012 Residential Technology Assessment, Connect Nevada explored how Nevadans are using their mobile devices to access the Internet. 7 The results of this survey were also compared to a similar survey conducted by Connect Nevada in Among the findings from this survey: Over 1.1 million Nevadan adults, or more than one-half (54%) of adult Nevadans, access the Internet via cell phones or subscribe to a mobile wireless service via laptop. This includes nearly 1 million Nevadans (46%) who use both home and mobile broadband, and 146,000 Nevadans (7%) who use mobile broadband instead of home broadband. Low-income and older Nevadans are significantly less likely to be mobile users than the statewide average. Only 20% of adult Nevadans age 65 or older access the Internet via a cell phone or subscribe to mobile Internet services, and only 36% of low income Nevadans are mobile broadband users. Nearly one in three Nevadans who subscribe to Internet service on their cell phones (32%, or nearly 360,000) chose to do so because they wanted the freedom of being able to access the Internet while away from home. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of Nevadans who subscribe to Internet on their cell phones go online with the device at least once per day. This means that over 800,000 Nevadans are using the Internet on their cell phones on a daily basis. For Nevada cell phone owners who do not subscribe to a data plan, the number one barrier is that they feel the service is not relevant to their lives. Almost one-quarter (23%) say that they don t want or need access to the Internet on their cell phones. Cost is also a major factor in the decision not to subscribe to mobile Internet service. One out of five Nevada cell phone owners (20%) who do not subscribe say that the monthly cost of mobile Internet service is too expensive, while an additional 7% feel that cell phones that can access the Internet are too expensive. 1 West, Darrell M. Ten Facts about Mobile Broadband, Released December 8, Deloitte, August 2011, The impact of 4G technology on commercial interactions, economic growth, and U.S. competitiveness, com/us/impactof4g 3 West, Darrell M., How Mobile Technology is Driving Global Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship-west 4 West, Darrell M., How Mobile Devices are Transforming Healthcare, 5 West, Darrell M., M-Campaigning: Mobile Technology and Public Outreach, 6 Connected Nation, Mobility Fund Phase I Auction Results: 83,000 Road Miles Nationwide Will Receive Mobile Broadband Upgrades, 7 Connect Nevada, 2 March 2013

3 Mobile Broadband Usage in Nevada Over one million Nevadan adults, or more than one-half (54%) of adults in the state, access the Internet via cell phones or subscribe to a mobile wireless service via laptop, according to the latest study from Connect Nevada (Figure 1). This is slightly higher than the Connected Nation average of 50% for the eight states surveyed in This is also a significant increase in mobile broadband usage since 2011 in Nevada, when 46% of the state s adults subscribed to Internet via a cell phone or mobile device. Connected Nation Figure 1. Mobile Broadband Usage % 50% Across the state, nearly 1 million Nevadans (46%) use both home and mobile broadband, while approximately 146,000 Nevadans (7%) use mobile broadband instead of subscribing to home broadband service. While using mobile broadband service in lieu of home broadband service may provide Internet access to a large number of Nevadans, access on mobile devices is not always an adequate replacement for home broadband service. Many applications, such as taking online classes or applying for jobs, are not designed for optimal use on a cell phone or mobile device. Nevada 46% 54% Figure 2. Mobile and Home Broadband Use in Nevada Nearly three out of ten Nevadans (29%, or approximately 590,000 Nevada adults) only access the Internet via home broadband service, while 18%, or close to 370,000 Nevadans, do not have a home broadband subscription or mobile broadband service. Mobile Use by Demographic Groups The use of mobile broadband is different among various demographic groups in Nevada. In fact, age, income, employment, education, gender, and the presence of children in the household are all correlated with mobile broadband usage in Nevada (Table 1). Older Nevadans are significantly less likely to be mobile broadband users than the statewide average. Only 20% of Nevadans age 65 or older access the Internet via a cell phone or subscribe to mobile Internet service, while over two-thirds of Nevadans age 18 to 34 and over twothirds of those age 35 to 44 access the Internet on their mobile devices. 7% only use mobile broadband 46% use home and mobile broadband 29% only use home broadband 18% have no home or mobile broadband Lower-income Nevadans are less likely to use mobile broadband. In fact, Nevadans with income levels under $50,000 are significantly less likely to adopt mobile broadband service than Nevadans with incomes higher than $50,000 or more. Three out of four Nevadans with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more use mobile broadband. Seven out of ten employed Nevadans are mobile broadband users, compared to fewer than one-third of Nevadans who are not employed (including those who are unemployed, retired, homemakers, or disabled and unable to work). Education level also is a factor in who uses mobile broadband. Fewer than one-half (46%) of Nevadan adults with no college education are mobile broadband users, significantly less than the percentage of Nevadan adults who have a college education who are mobile broadband users (59%). Even among these Nevadans who have at least some college education, those with a college or an advanced degree are more likely to be mobile broadband users. More female Nevadans (57%) tend to be mobile broadband users than males (50%). Additionally, almost seven out of ten households with children in Nevada (69%) are using mobile broadband, compared to only 45% of households without children. 3 March 2013

4 Minorities in Nevada are using mobile broadband to connect to the Internet. Almost six in ten African American Nevadans (57%) and over six in ten Hispanic Nevadans (62%) use mobile devices to access the Internet. Mobile broadband usage among rural Nevadans is similar to that of the non-rural Nevadans. However, 12% of rural Nevadans use mobile broadband but have no home broadband service, a significantly higher percentage than their urban counterparts (7%), indicating that mobile users in rural counties are more likely to rely exclusively on their phones for Internet access. Several other demographic groups are also more likely to rely mainly on their cell phones for Internet access. Interestingly, 13% of low-income Nevadans and 11% of Nevadans with no college education have mobile broadband access but do not subscribe to home broadband service. Minority groups are also significantly more likely to use mobile broadband instead of home broadband service than the statewide average. Approximately 29,000 adult African Americans (18%) and 52,000 adult Hispanics (18%) in the state use mobile broadband on their cell phones instead of subscribing to home broadband service. Why Nevadans Subscribe to Mobile Broadband Although more than one-half of Nevada adults use mobile broadband on their cell phones, not all choose to do so for the same reasons. Many Nevadans appreciate the flexibility of mobile broadband - nearly one in three (32%), or almost 360,000 Nevadans, who subscribe to Internet service on their cell phones chose to do so because they wanted the freedom of being able to access the Internet while away from home (Table 2). Demographic % Who Use Mobile Broadband State Average 54% Age Age % Age % Age % Age 65 and older 20% Annual Household Income Less than $25,000 36% $25,000-$49,999 44% $50,000-$74,999 63% $75,000 or more 75% Employment Status Employed 70% Not Employed 31% Unemployed 33% Retired 21% Disabled 23% Homemaker or student 56% Race/Ethnicity Caucasian 54% Minority 57% Hispanic 62% Black or African American 57% Other minorities 51% Education No college education 46% College education 59% Some college 55% College graduate 63% Advanced degree 63% Gender Female 57% Male 50% Presence of Children in Household Household with children 69% Household without children 45% Rural Status Table 1. Nevada Mobile Broadband Users by Demographic Rural 55% Non-Rural 53% 4 March 2013

5 Table 2. Why Nevadan Residents Subscribe to Internet Service on Their Cell Phones Which one of these was the main reason why you decided to subscribe to Internet service on your cell phone? Advances in cell phone technology and the ubiquity of devices such as iphones and other smartphones that are designed to provide convenient Internet access also play a large role in convincing Nevadans to subscribe to Internet service on their cell phones. Almost one in six Nevadans who subscribe to a data plan on their cell phones (15%) did so because they bought or received a cell phone that could access the Internet. An additional 22% report that they subscribed because mobile Internet service was automatically included with their cell phone contracts. Friends and family have an impact on mobile broadband usage in Nevada. Almost 70,000 Nevadans chose to subscribe to Internet service on their cell phones because a friend or family member convinced them. In fact, almost one-third of Nevadan mobile broadband subscribers (31%) subscribed after most of their friends had already become subscribers. Where Nevadans Access the Internet on Their Cell Phones The main reason most Nevadans choose to subscribe to Internet on their cell phones is that they wanted to access the Internet while away from home. Mobile devices provide Nevadans with the opportunity to access the Internet at a variety of locations (Figure 3). Four out of five Nevadans who access the Internet on their cell phones (80%) use them while at home. Nevadans who use mobile broadband on their cell phones also often use it at locations such as restaurants or coffee shops (71%), hotels (66%), and stores (63%). Figure 3. Where Nevadans Access the Internet on Their Cell Phones Nevadans who Subscribe to a Data Plan on Their Cell Phones You wanted a way to access the Internet while away from home 32% Mobile Internet service was automatically included with your cell phone contract 22% You purchased or received a cell phone that could access the Internet 15% You needed mobile Internet service for your work 10% A friend or family member convinced you 6% You wanted to use your cell phone to access the Internet at home 2% Mobile Internet service now costs less than it used to 2% You learned about an application you could use on your cell phone 2% Mobile Internet service is less expensive than home broadband service 1% You learned that faster mobile Internet service became available in your area 1% 80% 71% 66% 65% 63% 58% 57% 57% 31% 31% At home Restaurants or coffee shops Hotels At work At a store Airports Outdoor public zones In the car At school Library 5 March 2013

6 Mobile Internet is an important workplace tool in Nevada. Approximately 680,000 Nevadans with mobile broadband on their cell phones (65%) use these devices to access the Internet while at work. These devices may be impacting the Nevada businesses that employ these workers by providing ways to increase productivity, reduce operational costs, and increase business revenue. Additionally, mobile devices provide Nevadans with the ability to access the Internet while outdoors. Over one-half (57%) of Nevadans with mobile broadband use it at outdoor public zones, such as parks. Nearly two out of three, or over 150,000 employed Nevadans, who spend at least some of their time at work outdoors are mobile broadband users, while over one-half (52%) of Nevadans who spend most of their free time outdoors access the Internet using a mobile device. How Nevadans Use Mobile Broadband Nevadans who subscribe to mobile broadband tend to put the service to use (Figure 4). More than nine out of ten Nevada cell phone owners who subscribe to a data plan (92%) go online via their cell phones, including almost three-quarters (71%) who go online with the device at least once per day. This translates to over 800,000 Nevadans that use the Internet on their cell phones on a daily basis. However, about 7% or nearly 80,000 Nevadans who subscribe to the Internet on their cell phones report that they never use the service that they are paying for. Figure 4. How Often Nevadans Who Subscribe to Internet on Their Cell Phones Use Mobile Broadband Once per day 10% Several times per week 9% Nevadans are most interested in using their mobile devices for social purposes. More than four out of five (87%) Nevadan adults who subscribe to the Internet on their cell phones use the service to communicate through or other types of messages (Table 3). Over two-thirds (68%) use their mobile Internet service for social networking sites like Facebook. Several times per day 61% Once per week or less 12% Never 7% Don t know 1% Table 3. Online Application Usage in Nevada via Cell Phone Which of the following activities do you conduct on your cell phone using your mobile broadband service? Nevada Residents who Subscribe to a Data Plan on Their Cell Phones Communicating through or other ways of sending messages 87% Using social networking sites like Facebook 68% Exploring or participating in hobbies or personal interests 64% Researching or purchasing goods or services 57% Reading online newspapers or other news sources 54% Online banking or paying bills 53% Searching for medical information, or communicating with healthcare professionals like doctors or insurance offices Searching or applying for jobs 21% Taking online classes or conducting research for schoolwork 16% Interacting with government offices or elected officials 16% 39% 6 March 2013

7 Cell phones are useful tools that many Nevadans use for e-commerce applications. Nearly six out of ten adults (57%) use mobile devices to go online for researching or purchasing goods or services, potentially providing a large economic boost to retailers in Nevada and throughout the United States. However, mobile Internet users in Nevada find their cell phones less practical vehicles for many beneficial applications. Only 16% of those that subscribe to a data plan on cell phones use the devices for online learning, and only 21% use them to search or apply for jobs. While mobile devices help connect many Nevadans to the Internet, they are not always an adequate replacement for home broadband for many important tasks. Almost 80,000 Nevadans who access the Internet on their cell phones (8%) report that they are mostly dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their mobile broadband service. Barriers to Mobile Broadband Adoption in Nevada For Nevada cell phone owners who do not subscribe to a data plan, the number one barrier is that they feel the service is not relevant to their lives. Almost one-quarter (23%) say that they don t want or need to access the Internet on their cell phones (Table 4). Another 13% of Nevada cell phone owners without mobile Internet service only want to use the devices to make or receive phone calls, while 10% said they prefer accessing the Internet from a computer. Table 4. Barriers to Mobile Broadband Adoption in Nevada Which one of these is the main reason why you do not access the Internet on your cell phone? Nevada Residents who Own Cell Phones But Do Not Subscribe to Mobile Broadband You don't want or need to access the Internet on your cell phone 23% The monthly cost of mobile Internet service is too expensive 20% You only want to make or receive phone calls on your cell phone 13% You prefer to access the Internet from a computer 10% Cell phones that can access the Internet are too expensive 7% Your cell phone is not capable of accessing the Internet 7% Using the Internet on a cell phone is too complicated 5% You can borrow a friend or family member's cell phone to access the Internet 2% You do not want to be restricted by data limitations or data caps 2% Mobile Internet service in your area is too slow 2% Your employer provides you with a cell phone that you can use to access the Internet You do not want to be committed to a long-term contract 1% Other 1% Don't know/refused 6% 1% Cost is also a major factor in the decision not to subscribe to mobile Internet service. Among Nevada residents who know how much they pay per month for mobile broadband service, the average reported monthly cost is $ One out of five Nevada cell phone owners (20%) who do not subscribe say that the monthly cost of mobile Internet service is too expensive, while an additional 7% feel that cell phones that can access the Internet are too expensive. This translates into nearly 150,000 Nevada cell phone owners who do not subscribe to mobile Internet service because of concerns about affordability. 7 March 2013

8 Mobile Access in Baker, Nevada Communities throughout Nevada can benefit when they have access to mobile broadband. However, there are many rural communities that still do not even have cell phone service. Baker, Nevada is one such community that is working with Connect Nevada to remedy that situation. The town is located in Snake Valley, a remote part of the state that serves as the gateway to Great Basin National Park, and currently lacks cell phone service. That will soon change, though, as plans for a new tower are now nearly complete. The valley is located in a particularly remote part of the nation remote and beautiful but with no cell phone service, says Lynne M. Hoffman, chairperson of the Baker Area Citizens Advisory Board. Ranchers, sheepherders, stranded motorists, and visitors to Great Basin National Park, as well as restaurant, motel, and campground owners would all benefit from cell phone service in Snake Valley Residents are eagerly looking forward to joining the Information Age. Without the support of Connect Nevada, none of this would have been possible. Resident Abby Johnson described Baker as, The little town bypassed by the cyber-highway. She recognizes, though, how vital it is to be connected. Visitors, residents, ranchers, and business owners are at a public safety deficit without cell service We hope that it happens, and that the Snake Valley s mobile access and broadband access will be able to serve its diverse users and sustain connectivity into the future. Ranchers, sheepherders, stranded motorists, and visitors to Great Basin National Park, as well as restaurant, motel, and campground owners would all benefit from cell phone service in Snake Valley Residents are eagerly looking forward to joining the Information Age. Without the support of Connect Nevada, none of this would have been possible. Lynne M. Hoffman Chairperson, Baker Area Citizens Advisory Board Conclusion Mobile broadband subscriptions continue to grow both across the globe and in Nevada. Currently, over one-half of Nevadans use mobile broadband. Mobile devices can make it easier for Nevadans to manage their time and stay connected while away from home. Mobile broadband can provide economic benefits through activities such as online shopping and use at work, while investment in mobile infrastructure has the potential to grow GDP and create jobs. 8 However, there are still some demographic groups in Nevada, such as seniors and low-income residents, that are less likely to be using mobile technology to access the Internet. Additionally, many mobile broadband users do not use their devices for activities such as online education and job searching. Many Nevadans do not access the Internet on their cell phones because they feel that they just don t want or need the access, while another large portion find that the cost is too high. Efforts to educate Nevadans on how to use mobile devices and make them more affordable could increase usage across the state. 8 Deloitte, August 2011, The impact of 4G technology on commercial interactions, economic growth, and U.S. competitiveness, com/us/impactof4g 8 March 2013

9 Methodology and Definitions Connect Nevada is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a non-profit in the state of Nevada. As part of Connect Nevada s mission, this research was designed to measure technology adoption and the awareness of available broadband service, and to determine factors that contribute to individuals choosing whether or not to subscribe to broadband service. Between October 11 and October 30, 2012, Connect Nevada conducted a random digit dial telephone survey of 1,201 adult heads of households across the state. Phone numbers were chosen randomly, with area codes and telephone prefixes determined by geography per the North America Numbering Plan (NANP), with the last four digits of the telephone numbers randomly selected. Of the 1,201 respondents randomly contacted statewide, 200 were called on their cellular phones and 1,001 were contacted via landline telephone. Once a respondent agreed to participate, these surveys took approximately 11 minutes to complete. Multiple attempts were made to reach an adult at each working telephone number on different days of the week and at different times of the day to increase the likelihood of contacting a potential respondent. To ensure that the sample was representative of the state s adult population, quotas were set by age, gender, and county of residence (rural or non-rural), and the results were weighted to coincide with 2010 United States Census population figures. Random sampling, with the inclusion of quotas to reduce bias, was chosen as the most efficient and cost effective method of identifying respondents. For the purpose of setting quotas and weighting, rural respondents are defined as living in a county that is not a part of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), as designated by the United States Office of Management and Budget. Surveys were conducted by Thoroughbred Research Group, located in Louisville, KY, in English and Spanish. the effective postweighting margin of error = +3.37% at a 95% level of confidence for the statewide sample, while the margin of error for Nevadans who access the Internet on their cell phone was +4.92% at a 95% level of confidence. As with any survey, question wording and the practical challenges of data collection may introduce an element of error or bias that is not reflected in this margin of error. Rim weighting was applied to correct for minor variations and ensure that the sample matches the most recent U.S. Census estimates of the state s population by age, gender, and the respondent s county of residence (whether or not the respondent lives in a rural or non-rural county). Mobile broadband users are defined as respondents who met any of the following criteria: Responded that they use a cell phone to access the Internet while at home when asked, When you are at your home, which of the following devices do you use to access the Internet? or When asked, At what locations outside of your own home do you use the Internet? responded Through a cell phone or handheld device or Responded yes when asked, On your laptop or tablet computer, do you subscribe to a mobile wireless service that allows you to access the Internet through a cellular network? or Responded yes when asked, On your cell phone, do you subscribe to a plan that allows you to access the Internet? and reported that they access the Internet via their cell phone when asked, How often, if ever, do you go online using your cell phone? Connected Nation conducted similar surveys in 8 states in 2012: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas and 10 states in 2011: Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. This residential survey was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program, funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The SBI grant program was created by the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), unanimously passed by Congress in 2008 and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in To learn more about Connect Nevada and its programs please visit or us at connectnv.org. 9 March 2013

10 APPENDIX A: Select Sample Sizes 2012 Residential Technology Assessment Connected Nation Average (n) Nevada (n) Total 9,607 1,201 Mobile broadband users 4, Adults who access the Internet via cell phone 3, Adults who do not subscribe to a data plan on their cell phone Demographic Categories 2012 Residential Technology Assessment 2012 Nevada (n) Rural 399 Non-Rural 802 Age Age Age Age 65 and older 194 Households with annual incomes less than $25, Households with annual incomes of $25,000-$49, Households with annual incomes of $50,000-$74, Households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more 358 Employed 679 Not employed 494 Unemployed 78 Retired 260 Disabled 63 Homemaker or student 87 Caucasian 868 Minority 281 Black, or African American 69 Hispanic 137 Other Minorities 77 No college education 366 College education 797 Some college 358 College graduate 283 Advanced studies/degree March 2013

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