DSL Users Diving into the Net

Residential DSL users are spending an average of 25 hours per week online, according to a feel-good study by DSL provider SBC Communications. But the 45 percent of consumers that the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) says don’t know what the term “broadband” means should probably be a concern.

SBC’s “Broadband Watch” survey found that 93 percent of the broadband users it surveyed say that broadband has improved their efficiency in using the Internet, and 92 percent of DSL customers are satisfied with their online experience compared to 57 percent when those same customers were using dial-up connections.

“In the last two and a half years, we have really seen the residential market establish an interest and a need for broadband services. The stage is set for higher bandwidth,” said Kathie Hackler, vice president and chief analyst at Gartner Dataquest. “Once customers experience broadband, it will be difficult for them to revert back or give up the service — especially as we see the applications that they are using for this become a stronger part of their lives.”

According to the survey, consumers would rather sacrifice their coffee (63 percent), newspaper (78 percent), radio (74 percent) and cable TV (59 percent) before giving up their DSL service. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents 39 years of age and younger said they would give up their coffee for DSL, compared with 59 percent of respondents 40 years of age and older.

Customers also say that DSL service and the PC are the two most important household technologies. Nearly all respondents (96 percent) consider their high-speed Internet access an important household technology, more significant than the microwave (88 percent), remote control (87 percent), VCR (81 percent), cable TV (70 percent) and the garage door opener (59 percent).

Broadband is being used to engage in online activities such as shopping online (95 percent), emailing photos (76 percent), downloading streaming video (64 percent), downloading MP3s (61 percent), telecommuting (60 percent), creating Web pages (49 percent) and playing games (47 percent). Younger (39 or younger) and older (40 or older) respondents are equally as likely to use their DSL to shop online and email photos, but younger respondents are more likely to download MP3s (84 percent compared with 55 percent of older respondents); download streaming videos (88 percent compared with 59 percent); and play games (68 percent compared with 41 percent).

DSL’s Effect on Online Activities
Activity Performed by
DSL Users
Performed by
Dial-Up Users
Downloading MP3s 61% 35%
Downloading video 64% 36%
E-mailing photos 76% 62%
Source: SBC Communications

More than two-thirds of the respondents expressed interest in future applications and content such as distance learning (71 percent), video-on-demand (70 percent), video conferencing (69 percent) and home networking (66 percent). Men were found more likely to be interested in applications and services such as home networking, distance learning and video conferencing. Younger respondents were more likely to be interested in future applications such as video-on-demand, home networking and video conferencing.

Not surprisingly, respondents indicated that increased speed (95 percent) is the major reason they chose DSL, followed by the ability to use the phone and Internet simultaneously (78 percent) and not having to dial-up to access the Internet (57 percent). Women (89 percent), more so than men (75 percent), consider being able to talk on the phone and be online simultaneously a “major” reason why they ordered DSL.

This is all good news for DSL providers such as SBC. DSL customers seem to have recognized the benefits of accessing the Internet using DSL compared to dial-up access, but attracting new customers could prove more challenging, according to CTAM’s study, “Does Anybody Really Know What Broadband Is?,” which found that 45 percent of consumers have heard the term “broadband,” but 45 percent of those who have heard it cannot offer a definition.

The awareness of particular high-speed features and benefits is high, with at least half of consumers agreeing that high-speed Internet access offers a choice of Internet service providers; a constant online connection without dial-up; access to the Internet up to 25 times faster than a 56k modem; and the ability to be online and on the phone at the same time with one phone line. Without exception, CTAM found that younger consumers and those with higher incomes are more likely to agree that high-speed service offers each benefit. Overall, at least f40 percent of the consumers surveyed find the benefits of high-speed Internet access very desirable.

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