Satisfying the Internet Customer in the Age of Instant-Everything
With tens of millions of Americans continuing to work from home and the number of internet-connected devices skyrocketing, the need for fast and reliable internet has never been greater. In fact, internet traffic soared to as much as 60% above pre-COVID levels during the pandemic.
But with all this change, has broadband performance and availability kept pace with consumer expectations? And what remains to be done to make sure broadband continues to evolve in the right direction? Let’s explore the answers to these questions.
Broadband delivers on service and cost
In general, and in growing numbers, Americans report being happy with their internet service. According to a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult, more than four in five adults (85%) give high marks to their home internet.
Taking a closer look at some of the most important factors of a broadband connection, a large majority of consumers say they are satisfied with their internet reliability, connection quality, signal strength, security, and speed. And crucially, satisfaction with these various aspects has increased by an average of 7% since 2019.
As for cost, seven in 10 believe their broadband service is a good value—an important finding as internet prices have bucked current inflationary trends by restricting price increases.
Broadband coverage continues to expand
While overall broadband consumer satisfaction is high, the survey also highlighted areas where improvement is needed—particularly in America’s unserved areas.
The data revealed that 16% of Americans lack reliable high-speed internet service in their homes, with younger adults, those with lower incomes, and residents of rural areas more likely not to have an internet connection at all.
Given that money can be a barrier to accessing the internet for some, broadband providers are working to fill this gap by offering low-cost internet service programs. Currently, about two in five consumers report knowing about these low-cost broadband options.
When it comes to federal programs that assist those struggling to afford internet service, some 36% of survey responders said that they were aware of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This particular program, which is the successor to the Emergency Broadband Benefit, provides discounts for broadband service and the purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet. While this level of consumer awareness is reasonable given that it’s a new program—funding for the ACP was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in November 2021—more work is needed to make sure that all eligible Americans know about its benefits and how to enroll. Already, however, some 10 million households have enrolled in the ACP, making it the largest ever broadband-availability initiative in America.
Connecting all Americans
What else is being done to close America’s digital divide? In addition to providing $14.2 billion in funding for the ACP, the bipartisan infrastructure bill also includes $42.5 billion to expand reliable internet access, with a special focus on those living in unserved and underserved communities. Another $2.75 billion in funding will also be used to expand the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots and digital literacy programs for seniors.
In a rapidly changing world, broadband continues to change and evolve to meet consumer demand, connecting us to jobs, commerce, education, entertainment, and culture at a moment when that connection has never been more important. In today’s digital-dependent world, it’s critical that we increase our efforts to make sure that everyone, wherever they live, has access to high-speed broadband. To find out more about our efforts to get 100% of Americans connected, click here.