There are no ways around it: prices are going up. As anyone who has bought groceries, paid the bill at a restaurant, or filled a tank of gas knows, U.S. inflation trends are on the rise and are expected to remain high throughout 2022.
While the current high rate of inflation is largely fueled by COVID-related disruptions in production and the ongoing supply chain crisis, labor shortages and soaring consumer demand has only exacerbated the problem.
But in the face of U.S. inflation trends not seen since the early 1980s, one important area has defied the upward curve: the internet.
Broadband prices buck U.S. inflation trends
According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of “wired telecommunications carriers” – or, in layman’s terms, internet service providers – rose just 2.6% in 2021, a fraction of the 7% rate of inflation seen that year.
What is causing this lack of high inflation? The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, had the same question, calling it a “stunning phenomenon that deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting.”
One of the reasons likely causing the dampening effect on inflation in the sector, PPI concludes, is their decades-long commitment to innovation and investment. According to NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, broadband providers have invested some $300 billion in infrastructure and networks over the last 20 years. And per this latest analysis, the long-term investment is paying off in more ways than one: bringing faster internet service to more customers while also helping to keep inflation at bay.
A critical boost at a critical time
The commitment of broadband providers to keep prices under control has been a bright spot to consumers at a time when prices for other necessities – such as groceries, gasoline, and housing – are eating up larger and larger portions of their budgets.
Still, even with broadband providers working to defy high inflation, some low-income households struggle to pay for an internet connection. Here, too, cable providers have stepped in to help fill this digital gap by offering low-cost internet service programs for qualifying households – such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials, Cox Communication’s ConnectAssist, and Mediacom’s Connect2Compete. They have also partnered with school districts and community groups across the country to identify those in need and get them connected fast.
Broadband providers’ efforts to get more consumers connected have been further bolstered by government programs. For instance, the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act resulted in billions of dollars in funding to finance increased internet access and tackle the digital divide. The law also has brought more than ten million households the internet by making a broadband affordability program permanent.
A renewed commitment
While the pandemic slowly recedes, the recent rise in U.S. inflation trends looks set to remain—at least for the time being. And in the face of this uncertainty, internet service providers are maintaining their commitment to contain costs, invest in infrastructure and networks, and provide low-cost options to help close the digital divide.
To find out more about how we can work together to close the gap and bring high-speed internet to all of America, click here.