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Broadband Services Prove Resilient

About 63% of U.S. adults subscribe to broadband services, and they seem more willing to cut back on cable TV than to scale back Internet service to save cash.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's latest survey on broadband adoption, the 63% broadband subscription figure, as of April 2009, was up from 55% a year ago.

The survey found 9% of Internet users surveyed reported cutting back or canceling online service in the past 12 months, versus 22% who said they canceled or cut back cable TV service and 11% who said they had canceled landline phone service.

Broadband users are also paying more. The mean average monthly bill for broadband service in April 2009 was $39, up 13% from $34.50 in May 2008. The median average increased to $38 per month versus $32 per month last year.

“Broadband adoption appears to have been largely immune to the effects of the current economic recession,” Pew associate director of research John Horrigan wrote in the report, released June 17.

Among broadband subscribers with one provider in their area, the average monthly bill was $44.70, while broadband users in markets with two or more providers averaged $38.70.

Of broadband users surveyed this year, 34% said they subscribe to a “premium” tier, compared with 29% in 2008.

About 53% said they subscribe to a basic tier versus 54% last year, and 10% said they didn't know (compared with 16% last year).

Just 7% of the U.S. population connects to the Internet via dial-up services, about half the percentage on Pew's survey two years ago.

Two groups in particular — senior citizens and low-income Americans — had above-average growth in adoption rates in the past year, Pew found. Broadband usage among adults 65 and older increased to 30% in 2009, from 19% last year. About 35% of households with less than $20,000 annual income now have broadband, up from 25% in 2008.

Pew surveyed 2,253 adult Americans by phone, including 561 interviewed on their mobile phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points. There were 1,332 respondents with high-speed Internet access; the margin of error for results on broadband usage is plus or minus 3 percentage points.