When we think of current day cord cutters, we typically think of people who are dropping their cable TV service for streaming options, right?
But did you know that the cord cutting revolution started years ago, way before Netflix streaming was even a thing? First, it was the landline phone.
Next, of course, was cable TV. Now, another form of cord cutting is gaining ground...
Read on and learn all about this new cord-cutting movement that's on the rise.
Data from the Pew Research Center, the reputable nonprofit organization that has documented the growth of the internet for over 15 years, shows that the number of people who are ditching their home cable internet services for wireless phone data is steadily rising.
Pew revealed that although the use of home broadband services rapidly rose between 2000 and 2010, it has peaked and has slowed down in recent years.
What's on the rise, however, is the number of people who are relying solely on their smartphones and their wireless data plans for internet access.
The surveys indicate that the number of U.S. adults who do not have home broadband internet but own smartphones climbed to around 8% in 2013, spiked to 13% in 2015 and now in 2018, it's on an all-time high of 20%.
That's 1 in 5 American adults who are now solely relying on their smartphones and wireless data plans for home online access!
But who exactly is cutting the home internet cord? Pew's breakdown of the numbers is interesting.
Based on the survey's demographics, U.S. adults ages 18-29 had the biggest year-to-year surges and home internet cord-cutting is increasingly common in households who make less than $30,000 a year.
39% of people who don't have high school diplomas are also skipping home broadband internet for their smartphone data plans.
Compare that to a mere 10% of college graduates and the reason for the apparent disparity is clearer.
This suggests that, like the other cord-cutting movements, cutting the home internet cord is all about saving money, of course.
Limits of wireless data plans
For some people, the resurgence of unlimited smartphone data plans is certainly making the idea of cutting the home broadband cord enticing.
Some of these plans even have hotspot tethering so gadgets like laptops, tablets and streaming boxes can have internet access through your smartphone.
Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan starts at $75 for one line, AT&T and T-Mobile at $70 and Sprint is cheapest at $60. Of course, these rates get cheaper the more lines you add to your plan.
But can these even be feasible for heavy internet data users? Or will the inconveniences outweigh the savings?
First, even these so-called unlimited plans have actual data caps. Go beyond these caps and you will see drastically reduced speeds. Here are the high-speed data caps for each carrier's cheapest unlimited wireless data plans:
- AT&T: 22GB
- Verizon: 22GB
- T-Mobile: 50GB
- Sprint: 50GB
Not only that, but wireless unlimited plans also have hotspot tethering restrictions (some of the cheapest plans don't even allow hotspots) so forget about it if you're planning on funneling every gadget in your home through your smartphone's internet connection.
For example, Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan's mobile hotspot is capped at an excruciatingly slow 600kbps, not even enough for decent HD video streaming. Sprint, on the other hand, only allows for 500GB of hotspot data in its basic unlimited plan.
That's not even enough for one full-length HD movie.
T-Mobile's hotspot tethering in its cheapest T-Mobile One unlimited plan, on the other hand, is limited to 3G speeds while AT&T's "Unlimited & More" plan doesn't even have hotspot tethering included.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheapest unlimited plans typically have hard caps on the quality of streaming video. All the entry-level unlimited plans of each carrier limit video streaming to 480p standard definition or lower than HD definition.
Is home internet cord-cutting for you?
So who could actually benefit from cutting the home internet cord?
Hmm, I'd say it can be an option for people or families who don't rely on the internet and data too much in their daily activities in the first place. Casual web surfing, a little bit of social media, video streaming here and there -- if you watch your internet usage like a hawk, maybe you could pull it off.
But based on the current limitations of wireless data plans, cutting broadband is still unfeasible for heavy video streamers who value the picture quality of their content. (Based on the bandwidth needed for HD quality streams, you can blow by those 22GB data caps in one day!)
However, if you're content with occasionally watching your streaming services on your smartphone, then it could be an option you can look at.
And obviously, households that have smart appliances (like security cameras and smart thermostats) that rely on constant internet connections still need a home broadband connection. If you're looking to get into the smart home revolution, then relying on your smartphone for your internet won't be enough, of course.
Taking all these limitations altogether, cutting the internet cord may be on the upswing for certain sectors of the U.S. population, but home broadband services are not going away anytime soon. Nope, it's not even close.
Tap or click below to listen to Kim talk about this new phenomenon.