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4G and Beyond: Mobile Data has Erased the Digital Divide

Executive Summary
Introduction
The State of Mobile Data: 4G Deployments
Beyond 4G
Internet Access: What do Consumers Want?
Implications for Public Policy
The Last Word
List of Exhibits
Exhibit 1: 4G Statistics
Exhibit 2: LTE vs Non-LTE Connections (U.S. 2014-2020)
Exhibit 3: Comparative Growth: Wireless vs. Fiber as a Percentage of the Population (North America 2007-2014)
Exhibit 4: Preference for Communication Services (North America, 2014)
Exhibit 5: The Evolution to 5G
Exhibit 6: Video Subscriptions (U.S. 2007-2015)
Exhibit 7: United States Broadband Subscriber Growth (2011 projection versus 2015 Actual)

4G and Beyond: Mobile Data has Erased the Digital Divide

Digital divide! The phrase conjures up a vision of some crevasse across which the poor and down-trodden peer longingly at some unachievable wonderland defined by Internet access. Digital divide has become a rallying cry to justify various governmental programs; ostensibly designed to address this problem of Internet access. But, what if the problem is non-existent or, at the very least, less dire than imagined?

Stratecast believes that the concerns about Internet access are very much overblown, and that the United States, in particular, is well on the way to virtually % Internet access. The reason this is almost certainly true is that broadband access is no longer the exclusive domain of the desktop computer. With smartphones representing an increasingly popular cellular option, and with smartphones available with prepaid access plans, in virtually any grocery store, practically anyone who wants a way to access the Internet can do so.

4G technology has largely been responsible for enabling this amazing increase in Internet access. While 3G technology enabled smartphones, only succeeding technologies like 4G, 4G+, and soon 5G, define mobility in terms of data. And with carriers increasingly giving away voice connectivity with smartphone subscription packages, the market has recognized that most people now think in terms of data functionality rather than voice connectivity.


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