Pew: Broadband Use Rises Sharply in Recession

  • Broadband Competition
  • Broadband Penetration
WASHINGTON, DC – Sixty-three percent of adult Americans now have broadband Internet connections at home, up 15 percent from a year earlier, according to an April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.  This growth occurred despite the recession and despite a jump in the average monthly broadband bill from $34.50 to $39.00. In fact, survey respondents were more than twice as likely to have cut back or canceled a cell phone plan or cable TV service than Internet service. Much of the growth was among seniors and low-income Americans, two groups with traditionally low broadband adoption rates.


  • 9 percent of Internet users canceled or cut back online service in the past 12 months.

  • 22 percent of adults canceled or cut back cable TV service in the past 12 months.

  • 22 percent of cell phone users canceled or cut back cell phone service in the past 12 months.



Why is broadband so recession-proof? Here's a clue: Over half of home users said broadband was very important to their lives and community, because they use it to communicate with health care providers or government officials, or to share  information about the community, or because it contributes to economic growth.

“For many Americans, a home broadband connection is a conduit for connecting to community and economic opportunity,” says the Pew Internet Project's John B. Horrigan. “That puts broadband in the ‘must keep’ category for most users, even when economic times are tough.”

Users were also more likely to subscribe to services with speeds above the minimum level - 34 percent paid for premium service, compared with 29 percent a year ago.

The survey also documented the benefit of broadband competition: The average monthly bill was $44.70 for users with a single broadband provider, $38.30 for users with a choice of two providers, and $32.10 for those with a choice of four or more providers.

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