Forty-three percent of broadband subscribers are dissatisfied with the cost of their internet service, according to a new report from Consumer Reports. This includes 27% who are “somewhat” dissatisfied, 10% who are “very” dissatisfied and 5% who are “completely dissatisfied.”
In comparison, 25% of respondents said they are “somewhat” satisfied with the price of broadband, 14% who are “very” satisfied and 8% who are “completely” satisfied.
The median amount that Americans pay for broadband is $70 per month, including taxes and fees, according to the report.
Sixteen percent of U.S. broadband subscribers increased the speed of their connection since the COVID-19 pandemic started to accommodate their household’s needs. The median cost of the increase was $23, but one third of those who upgraded are paying $30 more or higher.
Broadband Cost Report
The cost of broadband also prevents some Americans from subscribing to the service, according to Consumer Reports.
Of the 3% of respondents living in households without fixed or smartphone access to the internet, 32% said the reason they do not have it is because it costs too much. Other reasons include a lack of availability (cited by 25%) and no interest in the service (16%).
Just over three quarters of Americans (77%) say their household accesses the internet by using a high-speed internet “fixed cable or connection.” Fifteen percent access the internet only through a smartphone and 5% use DSL or dial-up.
The Consumer Reports broadband cost report comes at a time when policymakers are debating cost issues involved with broadband.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit program, established to help low-income households pay for broadband service and devices amid the pandemic, has signed up 4 million participants since its launch in May and federal legislators are considering extending the program.
President Biden has suggested that greater competition could help make broadband more affordable, and the Consumer Reports research supports that view to some extent. Researchers found that the median monthly cost of broadband service is $75 in areas with only a single provider, but drops to $70 where there are two providers, $68 where there are three providers and $67 where there are four or more.
Broadband providers that operate in high-cost rural areas argue, however, that in those areas, there often is no business case for even a single provider to offer broadband service without government support.
Consumer Reports offered one “universal cost-savings tip” for consumers who say their broadband bill is too high: It’s worthwhile to negotiate with your broadband service provider.
Among the 25% of respondents who negotiated with their broadband providers for a better price in the past 12 months, 42% said they were successful.