Broadband Makes Move Toward Mainstream Users

Broadband users are still more likely to be online longer and use the Internet more often than dial-up Internet users, but a study by Excite@Home found broadband user demographics are beginning to look more mainstream.

According to Excite@Home, 44 percent of broadband users have been surfing the Internet for more than 5 years; only 25 percent of dial-up users have been online that long. More than one-fifth (22 percent) of dial-up customers have been online for less than two years, down from 25 percent last year.

Broadband users spend an average of 14 hours per week online, compared to 10 hours per week for dial-up users — a 40 percent difference. The percentage of broadband users spending more than 20 hours per week online decreased from 43 percent last year to 23 percent currently.

Other findings of the study reveal that broadband users are becoming more mainstream, and less like the wealthy, highly educated early adopters of high-speed Internet access:

  • 43 percent of broadband users have at minimum a college degree, compared to 39 percent of dial-up users.
  • 76 percent of broadband users are married or living with a partner, compared to 59 percent of dial-up subscribers.
  • 47 percent of broadband users have at least one child, compared to 41 percent for dial-up customers.

Despite evidence that broadband users are closing the gap, a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) found that a divide exists between regions with broadband access, with rural Americans much less likely to have broadband access than residents of major metropolitan areas. Cost was also a large factor in the decision to get broadband service. The GAO report found that 40 percent of broadband subscribers had a household income of more than $75,000, compared with only 20 percent of those subscribing to narrowband services.

For those Internet users who do have high-speed access, it seems to change the way they interact with media. In its “All Things Digital” report, Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI), found that broadband is one of three home technologies that alter their owners’ media behavior in more than 50 percent of cases. The other two were mobile Internet access and satellite television reception.

SRI interviewed technology decision-makers in more than 130 homes identified as more likely to buy advanced devices and services. Of those with high-speed Internet access, about 75 percent reported that broadband has changed their Web habits. Among the effects mentioned were changes in time spent with the Internet; some respondents said broadband had led them to devote more time to the Web, while others indicated that its speed allowed them to get their Internet tasks done more quickly and move on to other activities.

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