Broadband Adoption Reaches Plateau

As the U.S. broadband population moves up and over 50 percent of home Internet users, the pool of dial-up users switching to high speed service will dry up. “Broadband Adoption at Home in the United States: Growing But Slowing,” from The Pew Internet & American Life Project forecasts a continued adoption rate, but at a slower pace.

Current dial-up users can be classified into three groups, according to the report. Moderately experienced dial-up users who have been online between one and six years account for 23 percent of adult Internet users. New users, who have been online fewer than six months, account for six percent of the adult online population. Adults who currently aren’t online, 23 percent of the U.S. adult population, fall into the category of non-Internet users.

US Adults With Broadband at Home June 2000 February 2005
Click on graphic to view chart

When broadband became a viable home solution, two factors contributed to its adoption among Internet users: the number of years they’d been online and connection speed. “The heaviest Internet users — those who did many online activities in a typical day — were those who had several years of experience. That meant heavy dial-up users were primed to switch to broadband to alleviate their demand for bandwidth,” says the report.

Factors that once drove dial-up users to adopt broadband no longer exist, therefore the propensity to move to broadband isn’t there for the remaining dial-up population.

“When you focus on the behavioral aspects of Internet users on dial-up, they’re not doing as much as Internet users who have adopted,” John Horrigan, director of research at Pew Internet & American Life Project, told ClickZ Stats.

Demographics and income may play a factor in holding moderately experienced dial-up users back. The average age of this group is 43, and 36 percent have an annual household income under $30,000. Twenty-four percent of moderate Internet users are college graduates. The study also finds many in the group are apathetic about Internet use. Moderate users may be less inclined to adopt broadband technology due to several factors.

Internet Use Intensity Drivers, October 2002 and June 2005 (%)
Have Internet at Home Years Online Experience
2002 0.253 0.126
2005 0.423 -0.009
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2005

“This is still technology that does require a certain capacity to self-troubleshoot,” said Horrigan. “The switching cost could just be the technical aspect of doing the setup, and often you have to switch your email address. These are people who are older, less educated and less adept to go through the process.”

The report consisted of several random digit dial telephone surveys of Americans over 18. Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted each survey. The most recent survey took place in May, 2005 when the organization interviewed 2,001 Americans. Of that group, 1,336 were Internet users.

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