Over the past five years Internet Service Providers in the U.S. as a whole only saw a 3% increase in revenue according to a study conducted by Mintel. They believe that the revenues have hardly moved because broadband penetration has slowed dramatically. They go on to suggested that the reason for the slow down is because people are leeching Wi-Fi from their neighbors rather than buying their own Internet subscription.
According to their study, 72% of those that responded to the survey had Internet access at home while only 56% reported having a subscription to an Internet Service Provider. They suggest that the other 16% could be sharing a connection with a roommate, stealing Wi-Fi from their neighbors or using their mobile phone for Internet access.
Billy Hulkower, senior analyst at Mintel, said:
Home Internet penetration barely moved from 2006 to 2009. The slow growth in the era of Facebook, Pandora and YouTube shows that people are accessing the Internet from home through different methods, even if they haven’t paid for access themselves. Younger consumers appear especially likely to use a neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal instead of subscribing at home as they are more likely to know how to find and connect to their neighbors’ service.
The survey went on to suggest that higher income homes are more likely to steal Wi-Fi. They found that households earning $75,000 were more likely to have Internet access at home but did not have a home Internet subscription.
DSL and cable modems are the most prominent methods of getting online with 38% and 44% usage respectively while dial-up connections are still hanging on with 9% saying that they are still using a phone modem to get online.