Broadband Booms and So Do Charges

Americans are using high-speed connections in record numbers and paying more for them. The latest data from Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project shows residential broadband penetration has reached 63 percent in 2009 even while monthly fees jumped 13 percent.

Despite the recession, U.S. residential broadband penetration jumped significantly last year, according to the latest data from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. April's 63 percent level of high-speed home connections represents a 15 percent increase from a year ago.
That's the good news.
Over the last year, according to Pew's numbers released June 17, the price of residential broadband increased 13 percent, from a monthly $34.50 a year ago to $39 at the end of April 2009. Broadband users with the choice of one provider reported an average monthly bill of $44.70, while those with the choice of two broadband providers reported monthly bills of $38.30.
The Pew report also noted that a growing share of broadband subscribers are paying for premium service that gives them faster speeds.
Of course, they are also paying more for the extra speed than they did a year ago. In 2009, 34 percent of home broadband users said they subscribed to a service that gave them faster access speeds, an increase from 2008's 29 percent. Of course, they paid more in 2009 than in 2008: an average of $44.60 per month as opposed to Pew's data that shows an average monthly price of $38.10 for faster service in 2008.
To underscore the growing popularity of broadband connections, Pew's survey shows broadband adopters are more likely to have cut back or canceled a cell phone plan or cable TV service than their broadband plans. Broadband users said their connections were very important for community news, communicating with health or medical providers, and sharing their views with others.
The greatest growth in broadband adoption in 2009 was among groups that have below average usage rates. Senior citizen broadband use grew from 19 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2009. Respondents living in households with an annual household income of $20,000 or less saw broadband adoption grow from 25 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2009. Broadband adoption in homes with an annual income between $20,000 and $30,000 experienced a jump in connections from 42 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2009.