Report: Smartphones help minorities bridge digital divide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Minorities in Tennessee, who are significantly more likely to own a computer or subscribe to home broadband service, are turning to smartphones in greater numbers and narrowing the digital divide, a new study found.

The report by Connected Tennessee found that advances in mobile broadband are making Internet access "more affordable and relevant to Tennessee's minority population."

“Broadband opens the door for Tennessee’s minority populations to attain new levels of economic prosperity by connecting them to an incredible amount of educational and employment-related resources,” says Connected Tennessee Executive Director Corey Johns. “While we are aware that mobile broadband use does not equal full digital inclusion, we are encouraged that it is helping to bridge the gap for the nearly 1.8 million Tennessee adults currently without a home broadband connection.”

The study found 44% of the state's minority population use smartphones to access the Internet, as opposed to just 39% of Caucasians. Minorities are twice as likely to substitute home broadband service with smartphone Internet access.

They are also more likely to use their phones for tasks like online banking (41% vs. 29%); searching and applying for jobs (26% vs. 12%); and taking online classes or researching a school (16% vs. 9%).

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