Broadband Industry Keeps (Falsely) Claiming US Broadband Prices Are Dropping
from the tomato,-tomahto dept
When the data doesn’t go its way, the US broadband industry has a tendency to just make up data that does. That was certainly the case during the Trump tax cuts, when the industry claimed tax relief would create thousands of new, high paying jobs and boost broadband investment (that never happened). It was also the case during the net neutrality repeal, when the industry claimed that being freed from “burdensome regulation” (read: bare minimum levels of FCC oversight) would also result in job growth and a major spike in broadband investment (that never happened either.
With the Biden administration planning a
$100 billion $65 billion investment into broadband, major ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Charter) are worried that some of that money could be used to boost broadband competition. After all, real data makes it abundantly clear this lack of competition directly results in Americans paying some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world. To do that, the Biden plan claims it will heavily support local community broadband efforts, often some of the only competition regional telecom monopolies see.
To fight back against the plan, telecom policy and lobbying group US Telecom has been circulating industry reports proclaiming that US broadband is…actually super cheap, and getting cheaper:
“This second installment of the BPI reveals continued and substantial price reductions for the most popular and highest-speed broadband internet services. These price declines coincide with an unprecedented increase in pandemic related broadband demand and an increase in the overall cost of consumer goods.”
Instead of directly measuring the average or median price that all home-Internet customers pay, the lobbying organization cherry picked the price points of a few service tiers, claiming those are representative of American consumers at large. The group also conveniently ignored the millions of Americans still stuck on dated and slow DSL lines in areas that see little real competition (read: regional monopolization):
“Separately, cable lobby group NCTA asserts that broadband prices have dropped 98 percent since 2000?but that’s only when measuring the “price per megabit” and ignoring that the “fast” Internet speeds of 512kbps in the year 2000 would provide an awful Internet experience in the year 2021. It also ignores that people in some rural areas still have to use DSL service with speeds of less than a megabit while paying nearly as much as people with modern connections. In these areas where the telecom industry has failed to upgrade old networks, the companies have not slashed the price per megabit.”
A recent study by consumer group Free Press found that average US broadband prices jumped 19% in the last four years alone. When the broadband industry “studies” its own industry it also selects pricing models that intentionally ignore the layers of bullshit fees and surcharges they hit consumers with, which results in broadband bills that can be up to 45% higher than their advertised rates.