Could You Live Without Home Internet Service? This Writer Did

cut the cord
Yacine Petitprez under Creative Commons

These days, you hear plenty of people bragging that they’ve cut the cord on their cable subscription or even a TV. But you don’t hear many boasting about not having home Internet service, largely because the idea of not having the Internet in our hyper-connected society sounds about as absurd as not having cell phone service.

But, as one writer recently explained on The Billfold, you don’t necessarily have to have a traditional Internet service provider to do all the things you normally do online — check your email, pay your bills or even stream live music and movies. All you need is your smartphone and a decent data plan.

Going Without Home Internet is More Common Than You Think

The writer in question, Paula Burke, didn’t set out intending to make a statement or start a social experiment; she simply had trouble setting up Internet service when she moved into a new apartment, and she realized she could get all the Internet she needed by boosting her current cell phone data plan from $100 a month (for 4 GB) to $125 a month (for 10 GB).

She’s not alone. A recent report by the Pew Research Center found that 1 in 5 Americans depend largely on their smartphones to access the Internet, while 7% depend solely on them. The majority of these “smartphone-dependents” are young, low-income non-Caucasians with low education levels — in other words, those who can’t afford both a smartphone with data plan and a traditional Internet service subscription.

But the article raises the possibility that going without Internet service could actually be the next viable trend for those seeking to unplug from the traditional grid. After all, even if you can afford to pay for both home Internet service and a mobile data plan, do you necessarily need to?

Before You Cut the Cord…

Burke found that, for the most part, being smartphone-dependent didn’t crimp her style. On occasion, she’d have to deal with annoyances like slowly loading mobile sites, but she could still do everything she needed to online — in part because she was able to set up a personal hotspot with her phone and connect her laptop for tasks that weren’t phone-friendly, like typing out long emails.

Depending on your situation, relying on your smartphone for all your Internet needs may not be as feasible for you, especially if you work from home or watch a ton of streaming content and can’t set up a hotspot to connect to a larger screen.

But Burke’s experience does pose an interesting question: With all our smartphones can do for us these days, how many of really “need” home Internet service?

Read the rest of Burke’s experience on The Billfold.

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.