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.

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Filed Under: broadband, competition, prices, us


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2021 @ 6:42am

    Hidden fees

    Nothing like being charged extra for using your own equipment.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2021 @ 7:12am

    so why doesn't anyone in govt (who isn't getting a back-hander, obviously) not speak the truth, challenge the statement and shoot the lying lobbyists right up the ass? the likes of Wyden has no fear of them!!

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

  3. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Jun 2021 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    Wyden is only one Senator. So is Bernie Sanders. Two senators alone do not legislation make.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2021 @ 9:53am

    'Americans paying some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world'

    it isn't just the price charged in the USA, it's all the add-ons that customers suddenly find they've been charged for that they knew nothing about, it's the piss-poor speed, the complete lack of stability and consistency of connection, the total lack of openness by the major ISPs with what they are offering/giving customers, the way that services are hindered, if not actually restricted, thanks to the way Pai repealled the Net Neutrality law that was in place before he became head of the FCC, (just to suck up to these same ISPs) plus the less than useless customer service that does nothing except give bullshit excuses and reasons for doing nothing to help customers!
    there's almost as many fuck ups with broadband as there were/are with diesel emmission lies concerning road vehicles!!

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

  5. identicon
    Dave, 2 Jun 2021 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    Because the big corps always want exponentially-growing profits.

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

  6. icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 2 Jun 2021 @ 10:41am

    They're not entirely lying. Broadband prices have been steadily dropping for years...

    ...for the telecom companies.

    I'm sure the ever increasing profit margins of the telecom companies will be a great consolation to the customers stuck paying the bill.

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

  7. icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Jun 2021 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    3 points to add.
    the ISP/Telco, bought up the tier 1 section of the net, it was cheap until they got hold of it.
    The other one is an old idea, that the economy is good if you Keep increasing prices, about 3% per year.
    Then we have to add, that adding money to the economy with no value to Add tot he economy, Inflates everything, except wages.

    Then lets add 1 more, witht he expectation of a Min wage increase, this will also mean a cost of living increase(from contract) for those on the top. Double the Min wage, and do you think those on TOP get Double again? and then the prices go UP AGAIN.

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

  8. identicon
    Bobvious, 2 Jun 2021 @ 2:42pm

    US Broadband prices are JAW dropping

    Fixed that for them

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

  9. icon
    Lostinlodos (profile), 5 Jun 2021 @ 4:31pm

    I won’t claim prices are rising or dropping. I don’t have evidence either way. What I do know is if have faster Internet now than 5 years ago and pay $10 less than 5 years ago.

    A lot of those shite fees are local, state, and national requirements. Fees to prop up broadcasters because most people don’t care. Fees to pay for distribution. Fees to pay for v911. Fees to pay for this or that.
    The more a company is forced to spend on regulations the more those fees go up for customers.

    Internet access is expensive, far more here than most countries.
    But I don’t see haw regulation can possibly help.

    The government just has no interest in solving it. All they have done for years is give away money that never makes it to actual infrastructure.

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


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