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Broadband Users Pull Ahead in Online Hours

  |  March 5, 2002   |  Comments

Broadband Internet usage outpaced narrowband usage for the first time in January 2002, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, as broadband surfers logged 1.19 billion hours.

Broadband Internet usage outpaced narrowband usage for the first time in January 2002, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, as broadband surfers logged 1.19 billion hours, accounting for 51 percent of the 2.3 billion hours spent online during the month.

The total time spent online by broadband surfers skyrocketed 64 percent year-over-year to 1.19 billion hours, while time spent online by narrowband surfers decreased 3 percent from 1.18 billion hours to 1.14 billion. By comparison, broadband users spent 727 million hours online in January 2001, accounting for 38 percent of the total time spent online.

"Broadband usage has hit mainstream, with time spent online by broadband surfers surpassing the critical 50 percent benchmark," said Jarvis Mak, senior Internet media analyst, NetRatings.

Both the home and work Internet markets have posted impressive gains in broadband usage in the past year. Nearly 21.9 million at-home surfers accessed the Internet via broadband connection in January, skyrocketing 67 percent from January 2001, and accounting for 21 percent of the total online population at-home.

During the same time period, the at-work broadband population jumped 42 percent to 25.5 million office workers, as compared to 18 million the year prior, reaching 63 percent of the Internet office population.

"Broadband surfers spend as much time online as narrowband surfers and also comprise a growing proportion of the overall online population. Increasingly, online business models will be built and marketed with the broadband surfer in mind," Mak said. "The growth and development of broadband will create a more interactive and robust online experience, impacting e-commerce, streaming media and overall Internet content."

Broadband Audience vs. Narrowband Audience
U.S. Home and Work Audience

Jan. 2001 Jan. 2002 Percent
Change
Broadband Unique Audience
At Home 13.1 million 21.9 million 67%
At Work 18.0 million 25.5 million 42%
Narrowband Unique Audience
At Home 87.0 million 82.0 million -6%
At Work 19.3 million 15.0 million -23%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Speaking of interactive content, the Yankee Group's Digital Home Entertainment Survey, 76 percent of households with broadband access report that they used their computer to play audio CDs within the past three months. An additional 60 percent of broadband households used their PC to play online games in the prior three months, and 49 percent said they use their PC to download music. Video applications lagged in comparison, with only 33 percent of broadband subscribers saying that they used their PC to watch video streamed over the Internet in the prior three months, followed by downloading movies (23 percent) and watching DVDs (23 percent).

"Broadband opens new doors for the delivery of entertainment content to the PC," said Michael Goodman, senior analyst with the Yankee Group's Media & Entertainment Strategies research and consulting practice. "While audio applications and gaming are well positioned to capitalize on high-speed access in the home today, video still must improve before it becomes a reliable consumer product."

A report from ARC Group expects the worldwide residential market for broadband to be worth $80 billion by 2007, at which time almost 300 million broadband business and residential premises will be connected via different access technologies. The report also predicts that by 2007 broadband connections will outnumber narrowband connections.

While the residential market has the largest number of broadband installations, the business market will be the largest in terms of revenue and bandwidth usage. In 2007, there will be more than 30 million broadband business premises, with Western Europe accounting for one-third of the installations. In North America, the rise in broadband business will slow down due to broadband saturation.

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