6 Noteworthy Trends in Internet Services This Year

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Last Updated: Nov 28, 2023
Person plugging in a cable to a network server
Internet services continue to evolve to meet changing consumer demands.

In the past three decades, the internet has come a long way from sharing data between institutions to delivering a connected and immersive digital experience to users around the globe. As the dynamics of the market keep changing, internet services continue to evolve. The COVID-19 pandemic has also been a catalyst for changes in the broadband industry, along with the emergence of new technologies and U.S government-sponsored programs. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the top trends in internet services in 2022.

Retiring DSL

Since the pandemic began, remote workers have developed a reliance on the internet. That’s one of the reasons DSL is becoming obsolete: Older technology doesn’t meet the demand of today’s internet users.

A few internet service providers (ISPs) have already announced that they will no longer accept new digital subscriber line (DSL) customers. That includes AT&T, which is focusing on expanding its high-speed technology, such as fiber. In light of the demand for faster internet, major internet providers are replacing DSL copper wires with coaxial or fiber-optic cables. The change in landline infrastructure heralds the end of DSL.

AT&T and Verizon High Speed Internet are notable ISPs that phased out DSL service, which could be a major issue for customers in areas without high-speed internet options. Not only is DSL widely available, but it’s also the most affordable option.

If you’re currently a DSL customer, you may have to switch to another internet connection type. You can check internet coverage in your area to narrow down your search.

Advanced Customer Support

The COVID-19 pandemic, broadband infrastructure legislation, and other external factors had a significant impact on the industry in 2021. One challenge of these changes is the growing need for customer support to handle the high volume of complaints and technology issues.

In 2022, ISPs have focused on developing advanced tools that support this surge. They’ve shifted toward self-service and virtual and app device emulators to address and resolve customers’ needs.

The remote environment of the past couple years also meant ISPs needed to develop customer-service tools that didn’t rely on access to physical devices or applications. Advanced technology has enabled platform-based solutions to make customer service more efficient and accessible for internet users and customer-service agents.

Fiber on the Rise

Glass threads of a fiber-optic cable
Fiber-optic cables are made of glass threads that send data at the speed of light.

Fiber internet services aren’t a new phenomenon. The world has finally caught up to the idea that fast internet is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. Investors are funding more fiber internet infrastructure and government-funded programs and initiatives are closer to bridging the digital divide. Fiber is available to residents and businesses, with separate internet plans and features. Several ISPs, including Verizon Fios and Google Fiber, are ramping up fiber expansion in 2022 and beyond.

5G Home Internet

5G technology is the next generation of mobile service, but its impressive speeds, extremely low latency, and growing coverage make it equally appealing as a residential internet service. By using their own 5G networks, a few ISPs have successfully deployed their 5G home internet service. Although 5G home internet is faster than satellite and DSL, it’s still less reliable and slower than cable and fiber.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and Starry Internet are the top 5G home internet service providers. AT&T already offers 5G for its mobile services, but its fixed wireless plans for home internet don’t use 5G technology. Attractive features of 5G home internet plans include affordable prices, no equipment fees, no contracts, and no data caps.

Expansion of Rural Internet

A woman holding a laptop in a wheat field
Rural residents have struggled to get fast and reliable broadband service.

ISPs are aggressively expanding internet connectivity in rural areas, especially for fiber service. One of the reasons high speed internet in rural areas is so important is that more people are leaving expensive urban cities to work remotely from cheaper rural areas. With fast and reliable internet, rural residents can minimize social and work isolation.

In September, the Biden-Harris administration announced $502 million in funding for high-speed internet access in rural neighborhoods. The initial $42.5 billion initiative, Internet for All, has been delayed until 2023 as the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) updates its maps of internet connections.

Some of these investments will come from President Joe Biden’s $65 billion fund for the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The goal of these initiatives is to support the rise in the rural economy and allow businesses to access new markets. The trend is also expected to boost education and health-care opportunities for residents and businesses in rural areas.

Affordable Connectivity Program

In November 2021, Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes the Affordable Connectivity Program (formerly the Emergency Broadband Benefit, or EBB). Under the ACP, eligible households receive discounted broadband services. The program ensures every U.S. household has access to high-speed internet for education, health-care, work, civic engagement, and more. It went into effect Dec. 31, 2021.

Several ISPs, including Spectrum®, Verizon, Optimum, AT&T, and Xfinity, are participating in the ACP. See if you qualify for the ACP before you find out which ISP may apply the discount.