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A Third of U.S. Internet Users Do Wireless

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds that 34 percent of U.S. Internet users have accessed the Internet using wireless technology, whether from home, at work, or someplace else. Any sort of Internet access counted in the survey, whether it be from a desktop or notebook computer, PDA, mobile phone, or carried out via Wi-Fi, mobile phone networks, or more-exotic microwave or satellite systems.

Overall, the report found that wireless Internet access is correlated to a "deeper engagement" with cyberspace, with 72 percent of wireless users typically checking email every day, compared to just 63 percent of home broadband users and 54 percent of all Internet users. Wireless users also seem more plugged in to current events, with 46 percent getting news online in a typical day, compared to 38 percent of home broadband users and 31 percent of general Internet users. The reports also found that some 80 percent of wireless users have broadband Internet connections at home.

Almost four in ten (39 percent) of U.S. internet users surveyed use laptop or notebook computers, and, of those, some 80 percent say those systems can access the Internet wirelessly. Some 88 percent of laptop users say they have accessed the Internet via a home wireless network at some point, while 57 percent have used a wireless network somewhere other than home or work to connect to the Internet. Interestingly, only 36 percent reported using wireless technology to connect to the Internet at work.

Cell phones and PDAs weren’t ignored: 25 percent of Internet users say they have Internet-capable cell phones, and 54 percent of those users have used that capability. Of those users, only 28 percent report having used mobile Internet features at work, and 27 percent say they’ve done it at home, and some 47 percent report access the Internet via cell phone someplace other than home or work. Only about 13 percent of Internet users reported having an Internet-capable PDA; of those, a whopping 82 percent have used it to connect to the Internet, with 56 percent of those using the Internet capability away from home and work, while 49 percent have accessed the Internet via a PDA at home, and 38 percent have accessed the Internet via a PDA at work.

The report also found that home wireless networks are becoming more common, with 19 percent of Internet users reporting they have wireless networks at home, compared to just 10 percent of Internet users when the Pew Internet Project asked the same question back in January 2005.

The survey on wireless Internet use focused on 798 users in a set of 1,623 Internet users, which were themselves a subset of a larger sample of 2,373 U.S. adults; according to the Pew Internet Project, there’s a 95 percent chance that the margin for errors on the wireless Internet use questions is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The surveys were conducted by phone from November 30 to December 30, 2006.

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