Study: Broadband Coverage (And Prices) Up

More U.S. residents than ever have broadband lines, but they're also paying more for high-speed connections than in the past. That's according to a new study issued today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Overall, 63% of U.S. adults had home broadband lines as of April, up from 55% in May of 2008, according to the study. Several demographic groups made particularly big leaps. Nearly one in three senior citizens 65 and over (30%) now have broadband lines, up from just 19% last year. Almost half of U.S. adults living in rural areas (46%) now have home broadband, up from 38% last year.

At the same time, prices are rising quickly. The average broadband bill is now $39 a month, up from $34.50 last year. But the exact price varies greatly based on the competitive landscape. The 21% of home broadband users who can only obtain service from one ISP pay an average of $44.70 a month. But the 17% of broadband users who have a choice of four or more ISPs pay less -- $32.10 a month on average.

Some other groups have recently reported that prices are even higher than $39 a month. Broadband advocacy organization Free Press recently issued a report stating that prices averaged $53 a month in the U.S.

In a finding that seems consistent with other reports, Pew also said that people who have broadband aren't likely to cut back, even in tough times. Pew found that just 9% of Web users said they had cancelled service in the last year, compared to 22% of adults who curtailed cable subscriptions and 22% of cell phone users who have cut back or axed their wireless service.

Last year, Toronto-based Solutions Research Group predicted that consumers were more likely to respond to economic pressure by shedding cable TV or wireless subscriptions than their Web connections.

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