In a first-of-its-kind effort, the Broadband Together initiative is asking people across the country to share their monthly internet bills — so we can find out what we’re really getting for our money, and advocate for a better internet that costs less
YONKERS, N.Y. — Consumer Reports today is launching a first-of-its-kind project to uncover what people really pay — and what they are really getting — for their internet service. With the support of local and national partner organizations, CR is asking thousands of consumers to share their monthly internet bills at broadbandtogether.org so CR can analyze the cost, quality, and speeds that are being delivered to people in communities across the U.S., and to better understand the factors that affect price and why consumers pay different rates for the same service.
The findings from this major initiative will help CR in its effort to press internet service providers and government officials to deliver greater access to fair, affordable, reliable internet services. In a recent CR survey, 76 percent of Americans say that internet service is as important as electricity and running water in today’s world, and 86% say they rely on the internet at least five days a week.
Over the past 15 months, the pandemic has forced Americans to work online, enter classrooms remotely and stay connected with family and friends through broadband internet service. This has revealed the serious challenges that millions of Americans face every day when it comes to getting broadband. Many consumers can be charged more based on where they live. People get stuck with slow speeds and poor quality of service because of a lack of competition in their community. Some consumers spend more money for less service, thanks to confusing pricing, and too many people simply cannot get online because there is no service where they live, or they cannot afford it.
“The internet is not a luxury — it’s a necessity,” said Marta Tellado, president and chief executive officer of Consumer Reports. “Broadband must be available, accessible, and affordable for all, including low-income households and rural areas. For too long, the true cost and quality of internet service has been hidden and obscured. We want to shine a light on what’s really happening, so every American can have the quality internet they need to succeed today and into the future.”
CR is working with a broad coalition of partners to examine these issues by asking thousands of consumers to share information about the quality and cost of their internet connection. CR’s Digital Lab has created a web tool at broadbandtogether.org for consumers to upload their bills for CR to analyze. To participate, consumers will need an internet bill, an internet connection so CR researchers can test their speeds, and answer a few questions about their broadband service.
The diverse coalition includes more than 40 organizations across the country that have partnered together for this critical initiative. The Broadband Together steering committee includes Access Now, American Library Association, Amerind, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, BroadbandNow, Color of Change, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, mLab, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, Rural Assembly, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, and The X-Lab @ PSU.
The White House has proposed a plan to spend $100 billion to boost broadband access and affordability, and members of Congress have proposed the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act (AAIA Act). While these actions are promising, they will take years to fully go into effect, if they are enacted.
“To create a better marketplace, we need to know the truth about our internet prices and fees. Shockingly, some bills don’t even list the price consumers are paying for internet service. This effort aims to bring broadband consumers much needed transparency, and the facts we need to advocate for better quality and affordable prices,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports.
This project is funded in part by the generosity of Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Ford Foundation. To learn more and take part in this exciting new project, visit broadbandtogether.org.
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About the Broadband Together Coalition
The coalition of national and regional partners includes steering committee members Access Now, American Library Association, Amerind, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, BroadbandNow, Color of Change, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, mLab, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, Rural Assembly, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, and The X-Lab @ PSU.
The coalition also includes American Economic Liberties Project, American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University, Coded Bias, Common Cause NY, Community Tech New York, Connect Humanity, Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Craig Newmark Philanthropies, EBSCO, Expectations Project, Fair Count, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), Impremedia, Internet Society, Kentucky Cooperative Extension, League of Women Voters – MD, Library Futures, MediaJustice, Mozilla Foundation, National Consumers League (NCL), Next Century Cities, Oishei Foundation, Public Utility Law Project of New York, Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), Siegel Foundation, Small Business Majority, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), TechSoup, United Church of Christ, Westchester Library System
About Broadband Together’s Media Partners
The following media organizations are working with CR to inform readers about the Broadband Together project: The Verge, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.), The Acadiana Advocate (Lafayette, La.), El Paso Matters (El Paso, Tex.), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisc.)
About the Digital Lab
The Digital Lab at Consumer Reports is a growing hub where technologists, lawyers and journalists are working together to advance consumer rights in today’s marketplace. The Digital Lab also appoints non-resident fellows to advance public interest technology research. Learn more at lab.cr.org.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 85 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.