Broadband for $780 a year — take it or leave it

Is 4%-5% of your entire income a reasonable price to pay for home Internet access?

That’s the “broadband issue” for two out of every five Cleveland households who survive on annual incomes below $20,000.

As we detailed in our last post, AT&T is now billing its home customers about $65 a month for wireline broadband access at any download speed from 6 Mbps up to 100 Mbps. That adds up to $780 a year… the same price charged by Charter Spectrum for its 100 Mbps service, the cheapest it offers.

So the monthly cost of standalone Internet service from one of the city’s two home wireline providers is either:

  • $55 a month for a very slow connection from AT&T (download speed between 768 Kbps and 5 Mbps), or
  • $65 a month for any faster connection — from 6 Mbps up to 100 Mbps — from either AT&T or Charter Spectrum.

Are there cheaper wireless alternatives? Nope. Satellite Internet is more expensive, not less, and has serious data limits. Using a mobile data connection to provide home wifi, if you use 20 Gb or more of data per month (and you will!), costs as much or more.

40% of all Cleveland households had incomes below $20,000 in 2016. 31% had incomes below $15,000.

Paying $780 a year for broadband would take at least 4%-5% of those households’ total incomes.

That’s on top of all the traditional necessities — gas, electric, voice telephone, etc.

Helps explain why we’re one of the nation’s worst connected cities, doesn’t it?  And why the map of home broadband access in Cleveland looks like this?

The high cost of slow broadband

Let’s say you live on the East Side of Cleveland and because of digital redlining, the fastest Internet service you can buy from AT&T is an ADSL2 connection that maxes out at 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. What does that slow connection cost?  As of July 2018, you’ll pay about $65 a month… $60 for the service plus about $5 in fees and taxes.

Now suppose you live in Kamms Corners or Beachwood, there’s an AT&T fiber-to-the-node cabinet in your neighborhood, and your AT&T Internet is VDSL rated at 75 Mbps down and 8 Mbps up.  Or let’s say you live in Bay Village, in one of the few local neighborhoods with access to AT&T fiber-to-the-home service, and your top speed is 100 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up. How much are you paying for 8 to 10 times the download speed and 8 to 100 times the upload speed available to that unfortunate redlined East Side resident?

You’re paying exactly the same: about $65 a month. Read more

CYC will screen “Dividing Lines”, new film on digital exclusion

CYC and Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center are observing Digital Inclusion Week 2018 with one of the first community showings of “Dividing Lines”, a new short film about digital exclusion in three communities: San Francisco, Lagrande in rural Oregon, and Cleveland. Read more