More than 60% of the U.S. population (61%) had low-priced wired broadband available to them in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to new broadband affordability research from BroadbandNow. Researchers defined low-priced service to include offerings priced at $60 or less.
This was a substantial increase from the third quarter of 2019, when 52% of the U.S. population had low-priced service available, the BroadbandNow researchers noted. They cautioned, however, that increased availability of low-priced broadband may be temporary because it may have been related to holiday shopping season deals.
BroadbandNow maintains a geographic database of broadband services available nationwide. In addition to tracking service costs, the organization tracks broadband availability by speed. Speeds available showed relatively few changes between third quarter and fourth quarter, particularly for higher-speed services.
The percentage of Americans that can get gigabit service increased from slightly below 23% to slightly more than 23% and the percentage that can get service at speeds of at least 500 Mbps was unchanged at 67.1%.
The minimum internet service speed that BroadbandNow considers to be broadband is 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. The percentage of Americans that had non-satellite fixed service at speeds at or above 25/3 Mbps increased slightly between the third and fourth quarter of 2019 – from 94.5% to 94.8%.
Broadband Affordability Research
BroadbandNow’s broadband affordability and availability data varies considerably from one state to another.
In fourth quarter, there were 16 states where at least 70% of the population had access to a low-cost plan, including three states where more than 80% of the population could get a low-cost plan. At the other end of the spectrum, there were five states in which no more than 9% of the population had access to a low-cost plan
As for availability, there were 12 states where 80% or more of the population could get broadband at speeds of at least 500 Mbps, including four with the availability of 90% or higher. And there were three states with 500 Mbps availability of 10% or less.