OnDemand WTP Pricing Research

Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America – Pricing Review Shows They Provide Least-Expensive Local “Broadband” | Harvard

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Our examination of advertised prices shows that community-owned fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in the nited States generally charge less for entry-level broadband service than do competing private providers, and don’t use initial low “teaser” rates that sharply rise months later. We also found that Comcast varies its pricing by region. Our study was constrained by the lack of standardization in Internet service offerings and a shortage of available data on broadband pricing in the United States. The U.S. Federal Communications
Commission doesn’t comprehensively collect or make available data from internet service providers on prices advertised or charged, service availability by address, or consumer adoption by address.


We collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally owned) Internet service providers (ISPs) that offer fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband—at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload—and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We found that most community-owned FTTH networks charged less and offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities. We found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also made the incidental finding that Comcast offered different prices and terms for the same service in different regions.

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