American Broadband Adoption Up, But So Are Prices

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The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released its Home Broadband Adoption Report 2009, finding that the percentage of Americans with some form of broadband Internet access in their homes has climbed to 63 percent, a 15 percent increase from just 2008. The report also finds that consumers place a high value on their broadband service, with survey respondents reporting they would be twice as likely to cancel cable television or mobile phone service than they would be to give up their Internet connection. However, prices for broadband are also rising: in 2008 the average price paid for broadband was $34.50 per month; in 2009 it’s up to $39.00 a month, an increase of 13 percent.

“For many Americans, a home broadband connection is a conduit for connecting to community and economic opportunity,” the study’s author John Horrigan said in a statement. “That puts broadband in the ‘must keep’ category for most users, even when economic times are tough.”

Despite the average price hike, the study did find that competition among broadband providers does help keep costs down: survey respondents in areas that had just one broadband provider reported average monthly bills of $44.70, while respondents in areas with multiple providers paid an average of $38.30 per month. The report also found that folks who subscribe to premium services for higher bandwidth and/or other features pay an average of $7.50 per month more than subscribers to basic plans.

A significant number of new broadband users seem to have been seniors, with the study finding a significant increase in the number of senior citizens subscribing to broadband: a year ago, only about 19 percent of seniors had broadband to their home, but in 2009 that figure has increased to 30 percent. Low-income, rural, and African Americans reported broadband adoption rates below the national average.

And what about folks who don’t have broadband Internet? Some 17 percent said the service simply wasn’t available in their area, and 19 percent said it was too expensive. But fully half of the people without broadband said they just didn’t want it.