The percentage of US home office PC households with Internet access soared to almost 81 percent by the end of 1999, up dramatically from just 26 percent at the end of 1996, according to International Data Corp. (IDC), which predicts this percentage to rise to 92 percent in 2004.
According to IDC, among the factors driving the increase in Internet use, including the high availability of Internet-ready PCs, which simplify going online.
“A small business operating out of the home, which in the past was constrained by problems of logistics, can now easily establish a global presence via the Web,” said Merle Sandler, senior analyst with IDC’s Home Office Market research program. “Corporate home offices are using the Internet, sometimes instead of the telephone, to stay in touch with their offices and customers, and income-generating home offices are using it to create revenues.”
The Internet applications that home offices use most frequently, such as remote access to corporate data, collaborative working, and file sharing, are all bandwidth intensive. As a result, the availability of high-speed Internet access is of particular importance to work-at-home households, and they have been among the first to adopt broadband technologies.
IDC expects traditional dial-up methods to remain the most popular way for home offices to access the Internet through 2004. However, this access method’s dominance will steadily decline in the coming years. IDC forecasts the percentage of home offices using traditional dial-up methods to get online will decrease from 95 percent in 1999 to 55 percent in 2004. During the same time frame, use of cable modems will increase from 3.4 percent of home offices to almost 15 percent, while DSL will soar from less than 1 percent to more than 23 percent.
“Different Internet-enabled capabilities will appeal in different ways to different types of home offices,” Sandler said. “Income-generating home offices will be interested in the revenue generating capabilities of the Internet while corporate home workers will be interested in improving the quality of communications with company headquarters and in gaining remote access to company resources. The opportunity for those providing effective communication support to both groups will continue to grow in the coming years.”