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Broadband Goes Mainstream

Alan Breznick

Just call us "Broadband Nation."

A new study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) confirms that broadband has finally gone completely mainstream in the U.S., about a dozen years after the first cable modem was installed. Conducted in mid-May, the study finds that 57.8 million American households, or 51 percent of all households in the country, now subscribe to some type of high-speed Internet service at home. That's up 21 percent in just the past year.

Perhaps even more notably, the study reveals that a whopping 75 percent of U.S. adults with home Internet access, or a total of 112.2 million consumers, now subscribe to home broadband service. And nearly 57 percent of the consumers 65 and over who have Internet access now subscribe to broadband.

In a good omen for both cable operators and phone companies, another 44 million adults expect to get broadband at home within the next two years. So, despite forecasters' warnings over the past few years, there's no sign yet of an imminent slowdown in high-speed data subscriber growth.

Not too surprisingly, 65 percent of current broadband subscribers say they upgraded for the faster speeds. Yet 82 percent of these subscribers don't know just how fast their high-speed connection is. Go figure.

In a bad omen for the cable guys and telcos, broadband prices remain a major hurdle for a fair number of consumers. In the CEA study, 15 percent of all non-subscribers say price is their No. 1 reason for not subscribing.

At least some of these folks may also not subscribe at home because they can get broadband elsewhere for less. The study finds that 42.6 million adults, or 43 percent of all those without home broadband service, regularly use high-speed connections at work, the library, school, a friend's or relative's house, or somewhere else.

— Alan Breznick, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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