Broadband Indispensible to Americans, Survey Finds

In hard times, cell phone and TV service cut before Internet.

by / June 18, 2009

Broadband Immune to Effects of Recession

With the current economic climate, more and more Americans are tightening their belts and doing away with luxury items. Dry cleaning, a morning latte, a plethora of TV channels - things once part of Americans' daily lives are being cut back in this time of economic hardship. However, in a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, Internet and American Life Project, home broadband adoption has reached an all time high, and high-speed Internet is no longer considered just a luxury by most Americans - it is a necessity. The percentage of broadband users has increased from 55 percent in May 2008 to 63 percent in April 2009 - placing the Internet in the "must keep" category for many Americans.

"Many consumers view their home broadband connection as a conduit for connecting to community and economic opportunities," said John B. Horrigan, principal author of the report. The findings show that Americans are much more likely to cancel or cut back cable TV or cell phone service than Internet service.

The greatest growth in broadband adoption in the past year has taken place among population subgroups which have been below-average usage rates in the past. Senior citizens, low-income citizens, older baby boomers and rural Americans are among the groups who have seen an increase in Internet usage.

A Quick View

Other notable findings were as follows:

  • Seven percent of adults say they have cut back or cancelled Internet service in the past 12 months compared to 22 percent who say they have cut back or cancelled cell phone service and another 22 percent who say they have cut back or cancelled cable TV.
  • The average monthly bill for broadband service in April 2009 was $39 compared to $34.50 in May 2008.
  • Broadband usage among senior citizens (ages 65 or older) grew from 19 percent in May 2008 to 30 percent in April 2009.
  • Respondents whose annual income is $20,000 or less saw broadband adoption grow from 25 to 35 percent in 2009.
  • Adults living in rural America had home high-speed usage increase from 38 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2009.
  • In 2009, 46 percent of African Americans had broadband at home, compared to 43 percent in 2008 and 40 percent in 2007.
  • Older baby boomers (ages 50-64) have increased their broadband usage from 50 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2009.