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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 15, 2008 2:28 PM

I Spend As Much On Broadband As I Do My Car Payment

While enjoying an alfresco lunch with new friend Gary Arlen, our wide-ranging conversation turned to how big a part communications is to our economy.

Now to preface this, while I focus primarily on broadband, Gary's decades of experience reporting on and analyzing the communications industry includes a deep understanding of all its many forms, including cable and broadcast TV. So he's thinking at a whole other level from my more limited worldview of figuring out how to achieve and benefit from a full fiber future.

So as we're chatting, Gary stops to ask me a question: how much does my household spend on communications per month?

At first, I was almost embarrassed to admit the number as between our Verizon family plan with two cell phones, my Verizon wireless broadband connection, and my top-end Comcast cable modem, we're up above $200, which has always seemed like a lot of money, especially since we don't even subscribe to traditional telephone line or cable TV.

Much to my initial surprise he shared that the average bill for a middle American family and above is roughly $250 a month.

Now when you think about it, it's easy to see how we reach that number. Between broadband, TV, premium TV, landline, and cellphone, I'm sure there are many people for whom $250 would be a dream.

But this conversation led me to realize something: I'm spending almost as much money a month on communications as I am my car payment.

Of course, in thinking about it, this isn't a surprise at all given that I can live without my car but I can't live without my connectivity.

But on the flipside, just yesterday one of my best friends since kindegarten admitted that after moving into their new house instead of re-upping with Comcast they've jumped over to the Minneapolis Wi-Fi network. The reason? He couldn't justify paying $150 a month for communications at home. And while he's a former early adopter of technology, the loss in speed he's realized in making this switch wasn't much of a consideration.

On this last point, I found a similar sentiment expressed by Gary, who admitted that while Verizon's FiOS is available at his house, he hasn't yet signed up for service. Why? Because he doesn't need all that speed at home when he has it at his office.

So here we are in the position of trying to tout faster networks to consumers who don't think they need them and are already paying so much for what they're currently getting communications-wise that they're unlikely, unwilling, and sometimes even unable to pay more for faster service.

Needless to say, I think we've got our work cut out for us.

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