In the midst of a severe recession, Americans are cutting their monthly bills to the bone. Landline phones and cable television are now nice-to-haves rather than must-have. But a broadband internet connection? Non-negotiable.
We've come a long way since the dial-up era, when usability best practices cautioned against using slow-to-load graphics on Web sites and in email. The Pew Internet & American Life project's Home Broadband Adoption 2009 report indicates home broadband penetration is holding steady at 54-57 percent of households, a healthy 63 percent of adult Americans. But adoption among senior citizens (65 and older) jumped from 19 percent last May to 30 percent in April of this year.
Similarly, 35 percent of low income Americans (household income of >$20,000) now have high speed internet access, a 10 percent jump since last year. Households making between $20-30,000 grew from 42 to 53 percent penetration.
While the study finds broadband is becoming more expensive, particularly in areas with few competiting providers, the sagging economy may at least in part account for consumers willingness to pay for the service, given the web's critical role in researching employment opportunities. Yet overall, factors that indicate a propensity to have home broadband are identical to those that profile the types of consumers advertisers hope to reach: high income, college degrees, children at home, and married or living with a partner. In contrast, non-broadband home indicators include lack of a high school degree, rural, and over 65 years of age.