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January 14, 2001

Nielsen//NetRatings revealed that high speed Internet access, including ISDN, LAN, cable modems and DSL connections, jumped 148 percent among home users in December 2000 as compared to the same period in 1999 (see Table 1). Nearly 12 million home Web users accessed the Internet with a high-speed connection in December 2000, as compared to five million people a year ago.

“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, 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.”

More people currently connect at 56 Kbps than any other Web speed, jumping 87 percent in the past year. In comparison, a 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,” said Kelly. “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.

High-Speed Demographics

The demographics of high-speed users 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,” said Kelly. “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,” he continued.

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