55% of US Adults Have Home Broadband, but 10% Use Only Dialup

July 7, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American

Some 55% of all adult Americans now have a high-speed internet connection at home – up from 47% in early 2007 and 42% in early 2005 – and among those who use the internet at home, 79% have a high-speed connection and 15% use dialup, according to a new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

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The 2007-2008 17% growth is comparable to the 12% recorded in the 2006-2007 timeframe.

There was no growth in broadband adoption among poorer families or blacks, while growth was strong among rural residents, older Americans, and those in households earning $20,000 to $40,000, Pew said.

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Little or no growth in broadband adoption at home from 2007 to 2008 occurred for the following groups:

  • Among adults who live in households with annual incomes less than $20,000, home broadband adoption was 25% in early 2008, compared with 28% in 2007.
  • Among African Americans, home broadband adoption was 43% in May 2008 compared with 40% in early 2007.

Nonetheless, several groups exhibited strong growth in home broadband adoption from 2007 to 2008:

  • Older Americans: Those age 50 and over recorded a 26% growth rate in home broadband adoption from 2007 to 2008. Half of Americans age 50-64 have broadband at home. Some 19% of those 65 and older had home broadband access as of April 2008.
  • Lower-middle-income Americans: Broadband penetration among those with household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 annually grew 24% from 2007 to 2008. Some 45% of those in that income range reported having broadband at home in April 2008.
  • Rural Americans: 38% of those living in rural America now have broadband at home, compared with 31% who said so in 2007 – a growth rate of 23%.

Though broadband adoption for low-income Americans has been flat, many broadband users show a willingness to pay more for broadband to get faster speeds:

  • Some 29% of home broadband users say they subscribe to a more costly premium broadband service for a faster high-speed experience.
  • Some even have fiber-optic connections at home – 2% of broadband users say so (though the vast majority still rely on DSL and Cable):

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The Pew Internet study also explores the reasons why Americans – dialup users or non-internet users – do not have high-speed internet connections at home. Among the 10% of Americans (or 15% of home internet users) with dialup at home:

  • 35% of dialup users say that the price of broadband service would have to fall.
  • 19% of dialup users say nothing would convince them to get broadband.
  • 10% of dialup users – and 15% of dialup users in rural America – say broadband service would have to become available where they live.
  • Overall, 62% of dialup users say they are not interested in switching from dialup to broadband.

Americans who are not online – 27% of adults who do not use the internet – are likely to be older (median age 61) and have low incomes. Asked why they don’t use the internet, non-internet users respond as follows:

  • 33% say they are not interested.
  • 12% say they don’t have access.
  • 9% say it is too difficult or frustrating.
  • 7% say it is too expensive.
  • 7% say it is a waste of time.

“Economic factors play a large role in why some people don’t have broadband, but about one in ten non-broadband users say that service isn’t available where they live,” said John B. Horrigan, Associate Director of Research at the Pew Internet & American Life project and author of the report. “Beyond price and availability, some non-broadband users simply don’t see the need for having a high-speed connection at home.”

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Broadband users report an average monthly bill of $34.50 for high-speed service, 4% lower than the $36 reported by broadband users in December 2005.
  • Dialup users report a monthly bill of $19.70 for service, an increase of 9% over the $18 figure reported in December 2005.
  • Some 34% of online users say they have gone online away from home or work using a WiFi connection on their laptop. Among this group:
    • 64% say they use free WiFi services when they do this.
    • 58% use WiFi in public places such as an airport or coffee shop.

About the study: The Pew Internet Project’s report on broadband adoption is based on the Project’s April-May 2008 survey of 2,251 adults, 1,153 of whom were home broadband users. The Pew Internet Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Pew Internet explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the workplace, schools, healthcare and civic/political life.

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