A few weeks ago, I wrote about the push to gain broadband internet access in rural areas of the United States. In July 2011, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 35 percent of American adults own smartphones. While it is great that cellular companies are continuing to expand their coverage in West Virginia, this does present another problem of the Mountain State falling behind other parts of the country. Moreover, the same Pew research project mentioned above stated that smartphone adoption is heavier among people who are affluent and highly-educated, those under 45 and African-Americans and Latinos. But still, perhaps smartphones are a way for even less-affluent people to have Internet access.

After thinking about my last blog post, I wondered if smartphones could be a way for people in areas under-served by traditional wired communication to link into the web.
Furthermore, the same study points out that for at least 25 percent of smartphone owners, their phone is the main way for them to access the Internet. The important aspect is that the rise of cell phones with Internet access means more on-the-go viewing.
And for wireless companies, it is much more difficult to expand in rugged, rural areas of Appalachia than flat, rural areas of the Midwest, for example.
Although situations vary from family to family and unlimited data plans are harder to find, combining landline and Internet bills into one device may be a way for people to have multiple ways to communicate – and get their news.

Combined with decreasing landline usage for home phones, it seems that smartphones will continue to rise in usage and popularity. West Virginia’s high poverty rate does not necessarily make for a solid smartphone base (although life is improving for West Virginians through numerous government programs designed to help stimulate the Appalachian economy).

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