Broadband: Growing but Slowing?

Here’s a roundup of data by aggregator eMarketer on broadband adoption — now pegged at 61 percent of U.S. households, according to Ipsos. eMarketer summarizes that price is the major barrier to continued penetration in the U.S. market:

According to a new survey from the Yankee Group, the most common reason US consumers don’t subscribe to broadband is that it’s too expensive. Despite promotional price cuts for DSL (which often cover slower connection speeds and eventually expire, shooting the price up), broadband is more costly than dial-up, especially for truly high speeds. Presumably, dial-up consumers have little need for tasks beyond e-mail, IM and simple Web browsing, which are doable through broadband, and want to keep their monthly expenses low. Price isn’t the only factor. More than 30% of consumers say that they just don’t want broadband, and about 14% say they feel dial-up is adequate for their needs. Less than 10% are not able to get broadband access in their area.

However, municipal Wi-Fi efforts aim to provide no- or low-cost high-speed access to urban areas throughout the country. According to this article about municipal Wi-Fi in Boston:

In its 40-page report, the Boston Foundation further said: "Respected technology companies like Earthlink, Google, and Hewlett-Packard are extremely interested in partnering with local government to come to Boston to build a low-cost or no-cost system capable of providing affordable and reliable service." … The question is no longer whether Boston is going to build a citywide Wi-Fi network, but rather how and when," the report, released Wednesday, stated.

And here’s information on Chicago’s new effort.

All the Internet consumer trends that TKG studies and writes about are tied to broadband adoption in one way or another (local search, the impact of online on newspaper and directory usage, VoIP adoption, etc.). That’s why this question of how much more deeply BB will penetrate (and when) is of critical interest and importance. Companies such as Earthlink and search engines such as Yahoo! and Google recognize that they benefit from increased penetration and so are interested in facilitating access. (Yahoo! has DSL relationships with almost all the major telcos.)

For all these reasons, the first panel of our Drilling Down event is:

The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?
High-speed Internet access is the backbone of the new consumer paradigm. It took a decade for broadband to reach "critical mass" in the U.S. Now we are witnessing the disruptive effects for traditional media and potentially for some newer technologies as well. While some predict broadband is slowing, others believe competition and new initiatives (e.g., municipal Wi-Fi) and technologies could drive high-speed access to nearly 100 percent penetration in the next several years. Which version of the future is correct? This panel will debate the potential scenarios and look outside the U.S. to higher-speed markets to see what the future might hold.

On that panel will be:

  • Chuck Haas, CEO, Metrofi
  • Om Malik, Senior Writer, Business 2.0 Magazine
  • David Payne, Director of Development, Earthlink Municipal Networks
  • Brian Jurutka, Director of Marketing Solutions, comScore

This Post Has One Comment

  1. David H. Deans

    The municipal wireless hotzone phenomenon is clearly a growing trend. Ironically, the attempts to pass state laws to block these community Wi-Fi networks has actually fueled their growth.

    The MuniWireless web site wasn’t mentioned in your blog post. Esme Vos, the founder of this site, has been an advocate for several years. I recommend it as a source of the latest news and public policy research on this topic.

    David H. Deans

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