Smartphones Are Bridging the Digital Divide

Minorities are accessing the Internet through cheap, prepaid wireless data plans.

Federal regulators weighing the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger must not ignore a significant but quietly unfolding revolution in how Americans connect to the Internet for information and products. The changes began with the 2007-2008 launch of the iPhone and Android and have accelerated with the introduction of low-cost cellphone plans. What is most striking about this smartphone revolution is its democratic character.

This month’s Pew Internet Report on Smartphones spotlights some specifics. Under 30, nonwhite, low-income and less-educated smartphone users report “they mostly go online using their phones.” Some 87% of them, according to Pew, sometimes use their mobile.