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Gen Z workforce inspires shift in broadband

June 30, 2023
By: Jonathan Dillon

As more households rely on faster forms of internet, broadband internet service has begun to be treated as a necessity in the home and workplace. But its use has varied by generation; according to Pew Research Center, 99% of US adults ages 18-29 report using the internet, while only 75% of senior citizens (65+) can say the same.

With Gen Z, aged 11 to 26, moving into the workforce and Boomers, aged 59 to 77, retiring, there will be a shift towards mobile internet (internet from cell towers and 5G data). Statistics from Pew Research Center indicate that smartphone ownership (85%) and home broadband subscriptions (77%) have increased among American adults since 2019 – from 81% and 73%, respectively. However, in recent years home broadband use has diverged, with 18 to 29-year-olds moving towards dependence on smartphones and older generations remaining dependent on home broadband subscriptions; people aged 30 to 49 have the highest dependence at 86%.

Gen Z may be gravitating toward smartphones because these devices have provided internet mobility from anywhere outside the home where home broadband subscriptions could not compete. In the 2020’s, in addition to full-fiber broadband, the rollout of 5G across urban areas helped supply ultrafast speeds for smartphones.

Due to the trend of Gen Z relying less on home broadband subscriptions, and more on the mobile internet, businesses have already begun to move investments from physical locations to digital apps to meet the needs of the changing demographic. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) notes that the mobile internet has reshaped business models, transforming traditional models, making some into completely online businesses. They are using mobile technologies to improve operations, cut costs, and reach new markets and customers, notes BCG. Additionally, apps on phones have become a means by which to bypass personal broadband subscriptions. 

To prepare for the increasing demand for high-speed data, the Biden Administration has set policies in motion designed to equip each part of the country with the resources to work efficiently in the digital economy. See SSTI’s coverage on this week’s announcement on the funding allocation by state for further expansion of broadband.

broadband, workforce