Rural Broadband Adoption Jumps 22%

Despite the downturn in the economy, broadband adoption in the United States has grown this year, this according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Pew’s latest survey report, “Home Broadband Adoption 2009,” released last week at the Internet Innovation Alliance’s National Broadband Strategy Symposium, found that 63% of Americans have home broadband connections, up from 55% in May 2008. The report confirms especially large broadband adoption increases among rural residents, senior citizens and low-income households in 2009.

The percentage of rural residents with broadband connections increased from 38% in 2008 to 46% in 2009, a 22% increase in just one year. In comparison, in 2006 just 25% of rural Americans had home broadband. Of note, however, the rural-urban gap has not diminished; the 20% gap between rural and urban adoption of broadband first identified in 2006 has been consistent in all the Pew surveys.

Pews also found that 55% of home broadband users said broadband was very important to at least one dimension of their lives and community, such as communicating with health care providers, government officials, sharing information about the community, or contributing to economic growth.

“For many Americans, a home broadband connection is a conduit for connecting to community and economic opportunity,” said John B. Horrigan, Associate Director of the Pew Internet Project and principal author of the report. “That puts broadband in the ‘must keep’ category for most users, even when economic times are tough.”

In fact, the growth in broadband adoption indicates that the economic recession has had little effect on decisions about whether to buy or keep a residential high-speed connection. The Pew Internet Project’s April 2009 survey found that people are twice as likely to say they have cut back or cancelled a cell phone plan or cable TV service than Internet service.

The nationwide growth in home broadband adoption occurred even though survey respondents reported paying more for broadband compared to May 2008. Last year, the average monthly bill for residential broadband Internet service was $34.50, compared to $39.00 this year.

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