Residential High-Speed Access Takes Big Step in 2000

High-speed Internet access, including ISDN, LAN, cable modems and DSL connections, jumped 148 percent among home Internet users in December 2000 as compared to December of 1999, according to data from Nielsen//NetRatings.

Nearly 12 million home Web users accessed the Internet with a high-speed connection in December 2000, as compared to 5 million people during the previous December.

“Streaming media is one of the chief incentives prompting users to switch to high-speed Web access, which is fast becoming the must-have service in the home,” said T.S. Kelly, director of Internet media strategies at NetRatings. “That said, improvements in quality, ease-of-use, and accessibility must continue if streaming consumption is to become as commonplace as broadcast or cable television.”

According to study “Streaming at a Crossroads” by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, the 7 percent of American households with broadband access are twice as likely to consume streaming media. Overall, 12 percent of Internet users say they have an at-home broadband connection, but broadband penetration increases among those that have tried streaming media (see table).

Streaming Media/Broadband Connection
U.S. Users with At-Home Connection
Category % with Broadband
At-home Internet users 12%
Tried streaming media 16%
Used streaming media
in past month
Used streaming media
in last week
Source: Arbitron/Edison Media Research

Nielsen//NetRatings found the most popular connection speed to be 56 Kbps, which increased by 87 percent in the past year. One year ago, most people accessed the Internet with a connection speed of 28.8/33.6 Kbps. The number of users with slower modem speeds of 14.4 Kbps and 28.8/33.6 Kbps has declined, while those with a 56 Kbps and higher connection speed increased their overall group share to 12 percent from six percent a year ago.

“Despite the current attention focused on broadband, nearly two-thirds of the home Web audience log online via a 56 Kbps modem,” Kelly said. “Modems connecting at 56 Kbps are still in growth mode, partly propelled by the free ISP movement.”

Home users with high-speed Web access visited more sites, viewed more pages, and spent more time online, in both the number of sessions and aggregate minutes, than their dial-up counterparts, Nielsen/NetRatings found.

The demographics of high-speed users reflect those of Internet users from five years ago. They continue to be slightly more male, especially among users who connect via DSL, and range in age from 25 through 34 years old. Females, however, are gaining ground and adopting high-speed connections at a faster clip than males, indicating that the demographics of broadband are poised to shift.

“These demographics hark back to the early days of the Web in the mid-1990s, reflecting the continuing ‘early adopter’ status of high-speed users,” Kelly said. “As the price of high-speed access in the home declines and as access to high-speed technology spreads nationwide, the broadband population will more closely mirror the dial-up audience.”

A study by The Strategis Group also found 2000 to be a big year for broadband. The study, “Residential High-Speed Internet: Cable Modems, DSL, and Fixed Wireless”, predicts a broadband market of 36 million subscribers in 2005, surpassing dial-up access.

Internet Connection Speeds Dec. 99 vs. Dec. 00
U.S. Home Users
Dec. 1999 Dec. 2000 Percent
Speed Users
Modem 14.4K 6,085 8.3% 4,842 5.0% -20.4%
Modem 28.8/33.6K 31,602 43.1% 22,960 23.6% -27.3%
Modem 56K 30,912 42.2% 57,898 59.4% 87.3%
High Speed* 4,725 6.4% 11,705 12.0% 147.7%
* Includes ISDN, LAN, cable modems and DSL
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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