Broadband access gets more expensive, study finds

Chicago (IL) – Access to fast Internet connection has jumped over the past year. A new study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that 63% of Americans now use broadband Internet at home. But while increasing broadband penetration may not be that surprising, pricing is. Consumers are confronted with rising cost for their broadband connections – and cost is now the main barrier for continued broadband connection, indicating another imminent digital divide.

According to the Home Broadband Adoption 2009 survey among 2253 U.S. adults, the average monthly broadband bill is now $39.00, up from $34.50 one year ago. Those consumers who only have one broadband provider in the area they live, 21% of high-speed Internet users, pay the most ($44.70), while those who live in a very competitive area with four or more providers, 17% of users, pay the least ($32.10). Users with two, three or four providers in their area (69% of users) pay an average of $38.30, the study found.

Many consumers apparently decided to subscribe to “faster” broadband during the year (34% of users). Basic service subscriber now have a 53% share of the market (down from 54% in 2008). The cost for both basic and advanced services increased in 2009 – from $38.10 to $44.60 for premium service and from $32.80 to $37.10 for basic service.
In fact, cost of broadband may be crossing a threshold that significantly impacts further growth and penetration. Pew Internet found that 32% of those consumers who do not have broadband Internet access said that cost is the main concern. 20% said they would not upgrade anyway and 17% said that broadband is not available in their area. Overall, 21% of American adults do not use Internet at all, while the share of dial-up users stands at 7%.

The report with detailed survey results can be downloaded here.