For all the fuss over Americans dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of Internet video, another type of cord cutting appears to be more common.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans canceled their home Internet service last year, surveys suggest, taking advantage of the proliferation of Wi-Fi hot spots and fast new wireless networks that have made Web connections on smartphones and tablets ubiquitous.
Last year around 1% of U.S. households stopped paying for home Internet subscriptions and relied on wireless access instead, according to consumer surveys by Leichtman Research Group Inc. Just 0.4% of households in the last year canceled their pay-television subscriptions in favor of getting video entertainment over the Internet via services such as Hulu or Netflix.
Dropping home Internet service isn't a great deal for heavy Internet users, however. While smartphones are fine for email and social networking, wireless data plans can be expensive and easily drained by even a single streamed high-definition movie. Free Wi-Fi is more widely available than ever, but cutting the Internet cord means users have to rely on cellular access at home.
Still, frustrated by rising cable and Internet bills, some subscribers are testing whether their smartphones and free Wi-Fi might be good enough. Others, unable to afford both services, are having to make do without easy access to streaming video for entertainment and education, underscoring the persistent differences in how people of various economic levels go online.more