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FCC survey: people are passing on broadband because they consider it to be too expensive

Even though most American homes have access to high-speed Internet, 35 percent of adults surveyed say they don’t get it. And the main reason is that it’s too expensive.

The findings were part of a survey to be released by the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday. The agency will use the survey data to help figure out how to connect all Americans to affordable broadband services. The project, ordered by Congress, has been delayed by one month and is expected to set policy goals such as reforming a phone subsidy program for broadband and bringing more spectrum to mobile broadband providers.

"In the 21st century, a digital divide is an opportunity divide," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. The chairman is expected to talk Wednesday about plans to bring make more spectrum available for broadband services over mobile devices.

"To bolster American competitiveness abroad and create the jobs of the future here at home, we need to make sure that all Americans have the skills and means to fully participate in the digital economy."

In its survey of 5,000 adults, the FCC found that 36 percent of people who don’t get broadband service consider computers, installation charges and monthly access fees to be too costly. Half of those people, however, that they would be willing to get service if it were about $25 a month. Nearly all said they would sign up for broadband service it were about $10 a month. The average broadband cost was about $41 a month, according to respondents.

Two out of ten of those non-broadband users say they don’t feel comfortable with computers or are “worried about all the bad things that can happen if I use the Internet.” And about the same proportion of non-adopters don’t see the relevance of high-speed Internet access to their lives.

The findings contrast with adoption rates of other technologies:

  • 86 percent of respondents said they have cell phones
  • 65 percent said they have cable TV at home
  • 66 percent said they have a computer at home
And only 6 percent of U.S. homes don’t have access to any broadband services. Adoption rates are even lower among minorities. While 65 percent of all adults get broadband, 49 percent of African Americans and 49 percent of Hispanics get the service.

By Cecilia Kang  |  February 23, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
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I just complained to Verizon that my broadband went from about $18/mo to $22 (including tax). They gave me a temporary credit and pushed the speed up about 30%. This seems reasonable. Are you sure the average of $41 doesn't include cable costs?

Posted by: loyalsyst | February 23, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

The normal comcast price for high speed internet for my area is around 54$ before taxes. With Comcast promotions, it typically is around 30$. But it is painful having to negotiate with them every few months and out of luck if they do not have a promotion. When cost of providing high speed internet is falling, the high prices do not make sense.

Posted by: titha | February 23, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

The data presented is confusing. The author says the rate of broadband usage contrasts with cable or computer usage. Yet cable is 65%, 66% for computers and 65% for broadband. (See last sentence of article).

What am I missing?

Posted by: oderb | February 23, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

give up minute or two less of free unlimited nationwide pageplus for $2.fifee'/mo, &getfew minutes of FREE dialup,landline,not dri.line, so.its . ok. anyone can. 1,2,3 where'd all money go...don'hava dime, took my cable free 175 chantv,& laughing with homeless budget, cann't find time To even listen to 'd m'chime & 1,2,3...

Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | February 23, 2010 2:20 AM | Report abuse

comcast internet averages around $42-$45....and no, it doesn't include cable TV Verizon DSL is a lot less, around $20-$25. But DSL sucks. Verizon FiOS (fiber optic service) cost me around $43 a month

Posted by: mileena | February 23, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

DSL broadband from Verizon works great,
one-megabit for $20/month. I've had mine for over a year no problems and it doesn't go down all the time like Comcast. Comcast cost more than twice as much. Comcast said I was getting 4-megabits but browsinng online the DSL is faster.

Posted by: jmm2 | February 23, 2010 3:54 AM | Report abuse

And what are the percentages for Asians, Ms. Kang, or are we/you now of the majority with our less than 5% of the US population?

Perhaps you just enjoy eating light yellow angel food cake with white creme inside from it's individual package, and just ignore us 5%?

Posted by: rush_n_crush | February 23, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

It used to be that when a company offered an unreliable product, at a sky-high price that they were forever raising, with REALLY lousy customer service, they went out of business.

Now they get a monopoly cable franchise.

It should come as no surprise that some people just refuse to deal with such slimy scoundrels.

Posted by: gitarre | February 23, 2010 5:05 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to have broadband, and I would be willing to pay up to $40/month, but I can't get a straight quote from either Comcast or Verizon that doesn't have a service I don't want (cable or landline) bundled with it.

Beyond that, Verizon at least requires direct credit card billing, and I've heard enough nightmare stories to know how that goes: once you let them into your account they will never, ever take no for an answer and you'll be paying for the rest of your life whether you want the service or not, whether you're even getting the service or not.

Posted by: csdiego | February 23, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

HA HA, in 'Socialist' Europe we get tv+very fast internet+free calling for the price you pay for one service. This is because we have COMPETITION and are not slaves to corporate special interests.

Posted by: DC2Amsterdam | February 23, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

@ corporate special interest in Europe?...really?...that would certainly be news to the diamond trade and the Africans affected by those non-exisant Euopean corporate interest buisness practices. Regardless...What is the level of EU and/or Dutch government subsidy provided to the competators involved in providing your package of services?

Posted by: fishhead7763 | February 23, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

gitarre hits the nail on the head. Currently companies offer poor customer service on a product that is overpriced with poor performance. There is just not enough choice, companies already have close to a monopoly on service. I currently have dsl with Verizon. Performance goes to crawl every night between 8 and 10 and inspite of more than a dozen calls and two inperson service calls, Verizon sees nothing wrong and keeps closing the ticket. I think the $41 is low, especially once you include the mandartory rental fees that cable has for their equipment and the set up fees, etc.

Posted by: mdembski1 | February 23, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps broadband use is lower among minorities because they don't like surfing the web at high speeds?

Posted by: kenk3 | February 23, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The reason why people don't use broadband?


Posted by: bs2004 | February 23, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Comcast internet is $45 per month. It's even higher if you aren't a subscriber to their cable tv service. The only low cost option in broadband is Verizon DSL and they is not available in most places.

Posted by: buffysummers | February 23, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

In rural Nelson County Virginia I pay $60 per month for Verizon VZAccess. I have a 5.120 Gig data limit per month which I hit every month. I am lucky to be within range of a Verizon tower. Nelson County has an internet over the electric wires program but I hear the success is not very good.

I consider $60 too much. I believe broadband should be like telephone and electric, a guaranteed infrastructure available to all at a reasonable price.

Posted by: hz9604 | February 23, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

hmmmmmm. Broadband -- it's a lovely thought. Everyone here is talking about DSL broadband and how available it seems to be to lots of folks.

But those of us who live in the boonies who can't get squat for services from Verizon except dial-up or broadband (not DSL) are stuck with only two choices of plans - tiny usage or gigantic usage.

Yes indeed Verizon has us country folk over a barrel. And incidently so does satellite DSL -- the costs just to set that up are again astronomical -- I hope the FCC can do some regulation on getting all services available to all customers everywhere. I'm tired of being gouged in the wallet everytime I turn around.....

Posted by: tecatesdream | February 23, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone actually proof-read this article before it was published? The number of grammatical errors is ridiculous.

Posted by: Joecifer | February 23, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

WOW, my broadband/cable tv/phone bundle with FIOS is $190 a month, they lied about the cost and keep saying it's taxes...I got money back for a while but no matter what I do or they say after a month the bill goes back up.

Posted by: datdamwuf2 | February 23, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

It's ironic that Cecilia Kang would publish an article noting that broadband was too expensive, but then also show an unacceptable and unethical bias, in article after article, toward her sponsor Google's "network neutrality" regulation, which would drive that cost upward.

Posted by: squirma | February 23, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

squirma, aka Brett Glass, once again showing his unhinged Google-obsession. Contra his increase prices garbage, there was just a story out today about how top Wall Street analysts (the folks who are sensitive to such concerns) say net neutrality is no big deal for ISPs, and only really a concern for the bottom line of mobile wireless carriers, because it threatens their SMS and voice revenues. It certainly won't raise prices for Brett's crappy WiFi service.

Brett, for the love of God, please go ahead and block all Google-owned sites from your crappy service, and see how your customers respond.

Folks, beware of Brett Glass. Some people allege he was once hospitalized in a mental institution for his obsession with Cecelia Kang.

Posted by: AmyBandini | February 23, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"The FCC survey sampled all Americans, but for several racial or ethnic categories, there were not enough respondents to draw statistically reliable inferences. For Asian-Americans, American Indians, and Alaskan natives, the sample yielded fewer than 100 respondents in each group."
--from the FCC report

Posted by: Mark_CharmCity | February 23, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"Some people allege" that the posting by "AmyBandini" above is abusive and libelous.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | February 23, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

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