U.S. Broadband Adoption, Prices Both on the Rise

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Both broadband adoption and prices have significantly increased over the past year, according to Pew Research.

Pew's annual Home Broadband Adoption survey released today shows that 63% of Americans now have broadband Internet connections in their homes, up from the 55% in last year's survey. One of the big drivers has been an increasing number of subscribers to premium broadband services, the survey finds; 34% of users reported subscribing to premium services in 2009, up from 29% in 2008. By contrast, the percentage broadband subscribers who used basic services held about steady at 53%.

However, the increase in broadband adoption has also coincided with an increase in broadband prices, which the survey found are now at their highest level since 2004. Broadband users reported having an average monthly bill of $39, a 13% increase from the $34.50 reported in 2008. The increase is striking, as broadband prices had generally been declining since 2004, when users also reported an average monthly bill of $39.

Pew says the price increases aren't merely caused by more people adopting premium broadband services, as both premium and basic service users saw their average monthly bills increase.

The average monthly bill for a basic broadband users was $37.10 in 2009, up from $32.80 in 2008, while the bill for premium users was $44.10, up from $38.10. The survey predictably found that prices were higher in areas that only had one broadband provider, where the mean monthly price for broadband services was $44.70 and the median monthly price is $40. In areas with more than one broadband provider, the mean monthly price was $38.30 and the median monthly price was $35.

Pew also reports that only 7% of Americans reported having a dial-up Internet connection at home, down from 14% just two years ago. The drop off in dial-up connections is particularly significant because dial-up connections were actually more numerous than broadband connections in the United States as recently as 2004, Pew notes. Of the dial-up users surveyed, 32% said they were waiting for broadband prices to fall before upgrading their connection, 17% said they were still waiting for broadband to become available in their areas and 20% said that "nothing" would get them to subscribe to broadband services.

Pew says that non-Internet users now represent 21% of all U.S. adults. When asked by Pew why they didn't use the Internet, 22% reported that they weren't interested in getting online, which represents a sharp decrease from the 33% who said they weren't interested in getting online back in 2007. Other reasons that people gave for not using the Internet included reported lack of access (16%), cost (10%) and perceived difficulty of use (7%).

The survey was conducted through telephone among a sample of 2,253 American adults between March and April of this year. The survey comes just as the FCC has been working on developing a national broadband strategy to ensure that all U.S. citizens have access to affordable, quality broadband. The U.S. government has also designated $7.2 billion to fund broadband infrastructure in the recently-passed economic stimulus package.

This story, "U.S. Broadband Adoption, Prices Both on the Rise" was originally published by Network World.

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