Survey Shows African American Consumers Satisfied with and Value Their Cell Phone Service

May 31, 2012, 16:52 ET from

Respondents Support Legislation to Protect from Overpaying Taxes on Wireless Service and Downloads

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan national survey of African American wireless users shows respondents are extremely satisfied with their wireless service, support legislation that would help protect them from paying new multiple or discriminatory taxes on their cell phone bill, are skeptical of government regulation, and widely believe that they get a high level of value out of their cell phone service.   


Specifically, the survey shows that 94% of African Americans are satisfied with their wireless service. When asked about the taxes and fees they pay for their monthly service, 83% support a five-year freeze on new wireless taxes and fees, which would prohibit states and municipalities from raising taxes and fees on wireless service – a support level stronger than the Annual Consumer Survey of the general population. When asked how much they think they pay in cell phone taxes and fees on their monthly bill, nearly a quarter of respondents had no idea. Of those who estimated what they believed to be their monthly tax and fee burden, on average they think they pay 9.8% or less, when in reality the national average is nearly 17% of their monthly bill. Ninety one percent think the tax rate on monthly cell service should be lower or the same as the taxes they pay on general goods and services, which on average is approximately 7%.

When asked about new government regulations on cell phone service, 70% say they believe it would make their service more expensive or make no difference and 57% say new regulation would make their service worse or no different. The survey also shows that considering the price they pay for cell phone service and the benefits it provides, 78% consider the value of their cell phone service to be excellent or good.

Sixty three percent say they purchase digital downloads such as ringtones, music, video games, books, software or apps to their cell phone or other wireless devices and 55% (also a level stronger than the general population survey) support federal guidelines to establish one fair and consistent set of taxes to apply to purchases of online digital downloads.

"African American wireless consumers are among the leading early adopters of mobile technology and innovation and it's clear that keeping wireless service affordable and accessible is important to them," said Amy McLean, Manager of Advocacy for "While it's great to see satisfaction and value of cell phone service are highly rated among African Americans, we need to raise awareness of the excessive wireless taxes and fees many communities are shelling out to the government each month on their cell phone bill."

Other findings of note from the survey include:

  • Besides voice calls, respondents use their phone most for texting (43%) and Internet access (16%).
  • If they had to choose between a wireless phone, home phone, broadband Internet or cable/satellite TV as the most important service to have, 39% say wireless, 13% say home phone, 29% say broadband Internet and 14% say cable/satellite TV.
  • When asked if they would give up their landline for a cell phone, 34% say they would and 20% say they already have.
  • More than any other group we surveyed, African American respondents are aware of and use parental controls or settings offered by wireless carriers that allow parents to limit a child's cell phone use, child's Internet access, and texting and downloading.

Additional survey results and analysis are available at

McLaughlin & Associates partnered with Penn Schoen Berland to develop and conduct bipartisan national online surveys among 400 adult African-Americans, who are wireless phone users and likely voters. The surveys were conducted between April 2nd and April 10th, 2012. Interview selection was at random within predetermined geographic units. These units were structured to statistically correlate with actual census data of African-American populations. The accuracy of the sample is within +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval. The survey results in this summary have been rounded and the wording for each question is verbatim from the questionnaire.® is a nonpartisan non-profit national advocacy organization, made up of wireless consumers, businesses and community leaders from around the country, supporting reasonable pro-consumer and pro-taxpayer wireless policies.