CR’s Investigation into Broadband

CR announced new findings from a first-of-its-kind nationwide participatory broadband study conducted to better understand the true cost of Broadband across the U.S. These findings are the result of our Fight for Fair Internet project – a year long effort that had launched in 2021 with dozens of partner organizations across the country.

So, what should you know from the 22,000+ bills we collected and analyzed from the all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands? While it’s not a nationally representative study and is not predictive of the broadband market, it is one of the most ambitious efforts of its kind to understand how much consumers are paying at a moment in time.

We encourage you to read the full report here, where CR calls on companies and government to make bills clear and honest, and take steps to improve competition and pricing.  See below for a snapshot of our findings which can be found in our press release as well:

  • Internet pricing can sometimes appear to be arbitrary; in several instances companies charged different prices for exactly the same service plans.
  • Overall, average pre-discount prices for internet service ranged from less than $40 to more than $100 a month. The median price of the 18,359 bills where we could clearly identify internet cost was $74.99.
  • The average internet speeds consumers purchased varied dramatically, most ranging from 10 Mbps up to 1 Gigabit, or roughly 100 times faster.
  • The bills we received show that prices can vary by market, especially when consumers have choice among providers.
  • Americans in markets where we received bills from at least three broadband competitors reported paying, on average, about $5 per month less for service than those in areas where we received bills from one or two providers, and reported prices were lower still as the number of local competitors increased.
  • Many of the bills collected included add-on fees for extra services, such as “unlimited data allowances” or data overage fees with plans that have data caps. There can also be extra charges for equipment (router or modem rental fees).
  • More than a dozen ISPs were found to charge company-imposed fees—also known as junk fees—under names such as “network enhancement fee,” “internet infrastructure fee,” “deregulated administration fee,” and “technology service fee.” They can surprise consumers when they appear on monthly bills, and can enable providers to raise prices without seeming to violate marketing or contractual price commitments.



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