by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
broadband, broadband penetration, us

Has Broadband Growth Stalled In The US?

from the reaching-saturation? dept

A new survey on broadband adoption in the US suggests that broadband adoption in the US may be leveling off, or stalling out completely as the numbers aren't all that different than they were at the end of 2007 (55% have broadband now, compared to 54% in December). Of course, there are a variety of different groups out there trying to measure broadband penetration in the US, and they all seem to turn up different numbers -- so these numbers shouldn't necessarily be taken as fact. The report suggests the economic situation may have something to do with it, though there appears to be a variety of reasons that factored into the decision of many not to sign up for broadband.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:13am

    1st couple of years with internet, I used it a lot, now, I just use it for this and that and will not pay $50+ a month. I use DSL which with today's websites and applications is slow enough, if they would offer 3-6mbps for about $30 it would be worth it, but cable broadband is just not worth the money after the internet honeymoon is over.

    P.S. 1.5 mbps DSL is not really broadband anymore, I find it hard to believe anyone is able to view most websites without a 5+ minute wait with dialup these days - but if DSL were to go up past $20 for 1.5mbps, I would drop it also.

    Also since gas prices have been going up and up, food costs and many other goods have doubled. Who can afford it anymore?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dirk Belligerent, 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:29am

    Recipe for failure

    Compared to other countries, the U.S. ISPs seem hellbent on offering the slowest, most-restricted and most-expensive service possible at a time when the economic slowdown and spiraling prices for food and energy (thanks Reid and Pelosi!) are making discretionary spending tough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DS78, 3 Jul 2008 @ 11:32am

    Around here

    It's not being offered in any new places. Of course you wouldn't expect much in semi-rural Arkansas. Dial up (or Satellite, bleh) is still the only option for most of the people around here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    IWANTMYFIOS, 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:08pm

    The problem in America is that we have absolutely no competition and therefore no incentive to grow or offer better speed and product to customers.

    Consider that ISP's, Telecoms, Cable companies come into an area and "purchase" huge sections of an area (in fact some purchase the whole city like Houston, TX where I live). They buy the rights to be the sole internet provider in the area and no other company can offer anything else.

    So, for my area, if Comcast decides the fastest I can get is 8 megabits for $60 - 80 then that's the fastest I can get, even though FiOS is available 300 miles away in Dallas at 15 - 40 Megabits for half the price.. It really sucks.

    So because of the greed factor of American businesses, broadband acceptance has slowed to a crawl and with these exclusivity deals that ISP and telecoms are allowed to 'Buy' forcing out the competion in large areas and then jacking up the price of their higher speed plans etc... Broadband in the US is a joke.

    Additionally, in every area of the US where competition is taking place it is quite evident that broadband acceptance is flourishing. For example in areas where Verizon FiOS is offered, Comcast has implemented 16Mb plans to compete. In areas like mine where Comcast is the only gig in town we are stuck with what they want to give us. But in Europe where competition is huge, there are areas where customers have 12, 20, 30 and I read one report of a company offering 60 MB plans at the equivalent of $50 USD a month. So at the end of the day, it is the American greed factor that is hurting the broadband growth and as a consumer I absolutely hate it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      fios for president, 3 Jul 2008 @ 1:56pm


      I've spent the last two days surfing (at work, no less) for a cable internet provider not named comcast. I literally can't find any other residential provider in my area. I also don't have a phone (cells only) and so no dial-up or dsl. So basically I have absolutely no choice.

      Let's hear it for coffeehouses and the library.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Roy Ubu, 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:13pm


    I think these stats miss the point. There are a lot of people who have dial-up and see no need for anything more. I'm inclined to agree. I have low end DSL, and I didn't get that until I got what seemed at the time a particularly good deal. My connection still chokes on streaming video, but I am not concerned.

    I am somewhat sick that streaming video has become the norm for spreading info. I can read a text transcript of a presentation in one third of the time it takes to speak it. Yet I am forced (or coerced) into wasting time watching presentations from TED that I could consume in minutes in text. I've arrived at the point where I hit "back" immediately every time I touch a link that leads to a video.

    And don't get me started about "internet memes."

    It's just like highways. The traffic will expand to fill the extra capacity and it's soon just as clogged as it was before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    carol, 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:18pm


    We have lots of competition and 15MB for about $30 a month in Switzerland.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2008 @ 12:23pm

    home of the free*

    *offer only available in selected areas, subject to review, may be canceled at anytime

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Abby, 3 Jul 2008 @ 2:22pm

    Bogus Broadband Stats

    I live in a community about 20 miles outside Indianapolis Indiana. According to the stats we have five sources of broadband available to us. We have satellite broadband at $175 per month for the lowest speed available. Our cable company will provide broadband to us for $2500 per household and $100 per month. Our phone company will provide dsl for us (our household) for $3500 and then $55 per month. After two years of dealing with dial-up and searching for solutions my husband finally got a promotion that allowed us to afford the satellite option. It slow and unreliable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Errant Garnish (profile), 3 Jul 2008 @ 2:56pm

    Fact vs. fiction

    I think some of the facts of this story have been lost in translation. If you read the actual Pew report cited by the blog cited by this post, you will conclude that as of April 2008 year-over-year broadband penetration growth was strong (from 47% to 55%, a 17% increase).

    The statement that growth has stalled in 2008 YTD is not emphasized in the report, and is probably a mis-reading of the line graph (the nine-month period from 3/07-12/07 is represented with the same range on the x-axis as the 4-month period from 12/07-4/08). It looks like the slope has flattened in 2008, but this is just because the graph is non-linear in the x-dimension.

    Here is the actual text of the article: "The rate from March 2007 to April 2008 was 17%; this compares to the 12% growth rate from March 2006 to March 2007. It is also worth noting that the April 2008 number for broadband adoption at home is little changed from the 54% figure from the Pew Internet Project’s December 2007 survey."

    The "also worth noting" clause is insignificant since the previous samples were taken annually, and we are given no information about the seasonality of the trend. I would guess that broadband growth is more prevalent in the fourth quarter when students start school and new computers, gaming systems, etc. are purchased as gifts.

    Seasonality speculation aside, even if there was a slowdown in early 2008, the annual growth rate including this 'slow' period accelerated 42% (from 12% to 17%) compared to the previous year.

    The main counter-trend that the article discusses is the flat-to-negative growth in low-income households.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bunny, 4 Jul 2008 @ 8:13pm

    Terms of Service

    It's possible people are actually reading the terms of service for their connection, and balking at some of the draconian entries in it, such as "we may take control of your computer at any time" or "you may not criticize the company with the blue and white spherical logo."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 5 Jul 2008 @ 1:18pm

    It hasn't stalled, it's just pulled over to the side of the road until the telcos can figure out how to rape us more effectively for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John B, 6 Jul 2008 @ 9:46am

    Stalled ?

    I don't think that broadband growth stalling is a significant concern to anyone but those in the broadband industry. Like another commenter has stated, broadband in the US as compared to the rest of the industrialized world is slow. The business
    model thats being used is milking the most from Americans while providing the least. In my market we have both cable and telco broadband. The cable company offering bundles tv,broadband and phone. The telco offered phone,cellular and broadband. It should also be noted that the telco in my market blocks certain ports in order to encourage the purchase
    of comercial packages. Price is comparable. Most use cable. I hear that the telco now offers tv but I don't see a mass exodus to them. The US cellular industry is equally stunted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.