Broadband access gets more expensive, study finds

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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.

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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.