Consumer Cutbacks: Mobile Broadband Expendable, but Internet is Not

By April 13, 2009

ComScore recently reported that mobile broadband subscriptions took a big hit in Q4 2008, a result of diminished consumer spending. Mobile broadband subscriptions, which had been growing in double digits since Q2 2007, dropped to five percent growth in 2008’s final quarter, after subscriptions had grown 22 percent in Q3. “We’ve observed a significant deceleration in subscriber growth during Q4 2008 coinciding with the economic downturn, an indication that mobile broadband service may still be seen by many as a luxury rather than a necessity,” wrote Andrea Vollman, author of the report. While mobile broadband is still considered a luxury in this economic climate, the Internet is viewed as a necessity. In a report published in February, BIGresearch and STORES reported that Internet service was the most “untouchable” consumer


81 percent of consumers surveyed for the report, when asked to choose which goods were expendable and which they couldn’t live without, replied that Internet service was untouchable.

This was significantly more than basic cell service (64 percent) and basic cable/satellite TV (61 percent), and more than twice as much as a hair cut/ color (40 percent).

“With budgets tightening and consumers not eating out or shopping as often as they did in the past, the Internet takes on greater importance,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch.

It’s clear that the Internet’s cost value is better than other entertainment options, but it has also become a vital financial tool.

“It’s not just about social connections and entertainment; it becomes the tool that provides information on how to manage expenditures,” said Rist. “Shoppers will rely on the Internet to search for deals and to research how to do things for themselves that they may have paid someone else to do in the past – things like cutting the grass or brewing their coffee.”

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