It’s not only because I work for the wireless trade association, but I find I use my smartphone to use the Internet, even though I have other wireline connections available. Why? It’s easy and convenient. Apparently, I’m not alone.
Yesterday, the Pew Internet Project released a report that says 55% of Americans use wireless devices to access the Internet. But I also recognize that I am lucky to have a choice, since some may only have access to the Internet via mobile devices.
There are a number of studies that show that minorities, especially African-American and Hispanic consumers, own smartphones at a higher rate than the overall population. In addition, minorities use their devices more for voice, text and data.
From Nielsen’s “State of the African-American Consumer,” released September 2011:
- 44% of U.S. African-American adults owned smartphones in Q1 2011, 22% higher than 36% among the overall population.
- African-Americans ages 25-34 have the highest penetration rate of all (53%), followed by ages 18-24 (51%).
- African-Americans talk an average of 1,298 minutes a month, more than twice that of white Americans, who talk an average of 606 minutes a month.
- African-Americans send and receive an average of 907 texts a month.
- African-Americans also exhibit high use of phones for emailing (43%) accessing the mobile internet (41%) and visiting social networking sites (37%).
- Other common African-American smartphone activities include app usage (33%), app alerts, playing pre-installed games and text downloads (31% each).
From Nielsen’s “State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative Report,” released April 2012:
- Approximately 60% of Latino households own at least one video- and Internet-enabled cellphone, compared to 43% of the general market.
- 9 out of every 10 Hispanics presently own mobile phones, compared to just 8 in 10 whites.
- Hispanics are 28% more likely to own a smartphone than non-Hispanic Whites.
- Hispanics out-talk any other mobile user group as well by 40%, with an average of 13 calls per day.
- Hispanic mobile users send or receive 941 text messages per month, which is more than any other ethnic group in the U.S.
- Hispanics are less likely to have wired Internet access at home compared to the U.S. average (62% and 76%, respectively).
- Hispanics are 3x more likely to have Internet access via a mobile device, but not have Internet at home (9% vs. 3%, respectively).
- Hispanics spend 20% more time watching video on their mobile phones than non-Hispanic whites.
Quite simply, wireless technology is providing consumers with anytime, anywhere Internet access, which is something that everyone should support. That’s why we’ve been strong advocates of two bills in Congress that must be passed so everyone can benefit.
The first is the Digital Goods and Fairness Act (H.R. 1860; S. S. 971), which is scheduled to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, June 28. This bill would establish a national framework to prevent multiple and discriminatory taxation of downloaded digital goods and services (e.g. e-books, music, apps, etc). According to a survey by our advocacy group MyWireless.org, 55% of African-Americans support a national and consistent download tax while only 21% were in favor of the current state-by-state and individual jurisdiction regime. For Hispanics, those numbers were 50% (federal) and 27% (state-by-state). 63% and 62%, respectively, said they had purchased digital downloads such as ringtones, music, video games, books, software or apps to their wireless devices, compared with 30% in the MyWireless.org annual survey.
The second bill is the Wireless Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 1002; S. 543), which would put a five-year moratorium on any new taxes and fees on wireless customers. 47 states and the District of Columbia charge wireless customers more than the general sales tax rates for other goods and services. Why should a state or local government be allowed to tax wireless customers more than the rate that applies to other goods and services? It doesn’t make sense, especially in today’s information-driven economy. Again, MyWireless.org survey showed that 83% of African-Americans and 85% of Hispanics would support a five-year freeze on new wireless taxes and fees. The overall MyWireless.org survey showed 80% supported the measure.
With these kinds of numbers, how could anyone oppose these bills? The House is doing its part, with H.R. 1860 moving along this week and H.R. 1002 having passed last November. Now it’s time for the Senate to follow suit.