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Consumer Reports survey of American consumers on cost and accessibility of broadband internet services

Broadband survey finds growing dependence on the internet among Americans

Washington, DC – A new survey details the growing dependence on internet services and continued frustrations experienced by consumers in the U.S. concerning the cost and availability of broadband services.

This October, Consumer Reports (CR) conducted a nationally representative multi-mode survey of 2,087 U.S. adults administered by NORC at the University of Chicago. The omnibus survey included a section which sought to assess attitudes and experiences of American consumers as they relate to access, use, and cost of broadband internet services.

Since 2017, Consumer Reports has been asking Americans whether internet service access is as critical to their daily lives as basic necessities such as electricity and water. For six years now, CR has been tracking how Americans feel about the importance of internet service as a needed household utility. The percentage of Americans who agree that internet service is as important as other basic necessities remains high at 78% in October 2023. The survey also found that 85% of Americans rely on the internet 7 days a week. 

 “These survey results show that more people than ever depend on access to fast, reliable internet connections for work, education, and health care, ” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel at CR. “The survey also shows that there are still too many people who struggle to afford monthly internet costs. Lack of access to affordable, high-speed broadband is increasing the digital divide, and having a detrimental impact on low-income and rural communities. We need collective action to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable broadband.”

Key findings of the survey include: 

Access to internet

  • About three out of four (74%) Americans say their household accesses the internet using a broadband service–high speed internet through a fixed cable or connection. 
  • Eighteen percent of American households only have access to the internet through their smartphone data plan and one in 20 use DSL or dial-up to access the internet. 

Cost of broadband

  • 84% of American consumers pay at least $50 per month for access to the internet. 
  • Over a quarter of Americans (27%) who have a broadband service at their home say it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford their monthly broadband costs.

Affordable Connectivity Program (A federal program that provides assistance to eligible households in affording broadband internet service. Since the program launched in 2022, 22.2 million Americans have enrolled in the program that provides a $30 a month benefit ($75 a month on Tribal lands) to Americans who cannot afford broadband.) 

  • 59% of Americans have heard of the Affordable Connectivity Program, know someone else who uses it, have applied, or are currently enrolled or have enrolled in the past.
  • 41% of Americans have never heard of the Affordable Connectivity Program.   

Media contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org