Internet connectivity plays an integral role in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Even though transactions between users do not require an internet connection per se, the overall network – powered by blockchain technology – will require an internet connection at some point. Despite the number of internet-connected devices rising, broadband usage seems to be on the decline in the US for the first time since 2013.
The Decline of Broadband Internet At Home
Contrary to popular belief, fewer Americans need high-speed Internet at home these days. That may come as quite a surprise, especially when considering how more and more people consume Internet content through streaming services. Platforms such as Netflix, Vudu, Spotify, and Youtube are bringing content to users all over the US, at the cost of bandwidth usage.
At the same time, the subscription price for broadband Internet access has been rising steadily in recent years as well. Consumers have access to faster speeds, which can lead to network congestion for internet service providers. Upgrading the hardware needed to route all of the traffic requires money, and costs are passed along to Internet customers in the end.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicates how 67% of all American households have access to high-speed Internet, compared to 70% at the end of 2013. Even though this difference is very small, it is a significant change in consumer behavior that should not be overlooked.
Among the main reasons listed for not using high-speed Internet connections are some of the usual suspects: costs are too high, other options for Internet outside of the home, or even difficulties to justify the expenses of a computer. One surprising trend that is among the top five reasons is how a share of consumers feel their smartphone can do everything they want to do online, which does not necessarily require a high-speed connection.
Mobile data has evolved over the course of recent years, and most carriers can offer high-speed connectivity to mobile users as well. In fact, most mobile plans have a large amount of monthly data volume included already, so it only makes sense for customers to use up as much mobile data as possible.
For those consumers who watch an occasional clip on Youtube, or like streaming music, mobile data is more than sufficient. Plus, with so many places where Wi-Fi connectivity is available, it is hard to be without any form of Internet wherever you go these days. A lot of these statistics and reasons depend on the individual user, though.
Potential Impact on the Bitcoin Ecosystem
While these statistics only represent the current trend in the United States, the same might be happening in other countries around the world as well. In either case, there would be an impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem as the number of full Bitcoin nodes could very well start to diminish in the near future.
That is, assuming Bitcoin developers can’t come up with a proper solution to run a full Bitcoin node on devices that could connect to a mobile Internet plan. At the same time, mobile data plans have certain restrictions regarding volume being used on a monthly basis, making them less suitable for running a full Bitcoin node 24/7.
Another thing to take into consideration is the recent Bitcoin block size debate, which will likely lead to larger blocks on the network. If this were to be the case, high-speed Internet access plays a key role in reducing latency for miners and mining pools. However, it seems safe to say most Bitcoin users will not ditch their high-speed connection any time soon, as there is no reason to do so.
Taking all of these things into consideration, Bitcoin developers would do well to keep the mobile ecosystem in mind, and start working on solutions to support the network by using mobile devices. Preferably in the form of solutions that will not drain a smartphone battery within a few hours, as that would have an adverse effect.
What are your thoughts on the decline of US-based high-speed Internet connections? Is this a trend that will appear all over the world? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: CNN Money
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