Internet use jumps 15 per cent

More people are joining the Internet crowd and now nearly one in four Netizens has a high-speed connection, according to new survey data released recently by Dataquest Inc., a division of Gartner Inc.

Of the 65 million U.S. households that now actively use the Internet, about 24 per cent are using high-speed services like cable modems and DSL.

Between the end of 2000 and this June, 8.4 million new Internet users have gone online. That’s a 15 per cent increase in just over half a year, Gartner Dataquest reports.

The rise in broadband use occurred despite a slowdown in high-speed service expansion by regional telecommunications companies and setbacks suffered by high-speed providers. Most recently, Excite@Home Inc. has reported financial troubles, although it says it has ensured continued customer service.

“In fact, there is no indication that this demand will abate over the next 12 months,” says Amanda Sabia, industry analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s worldwide Telecommunications and Networking group. “An even higher growth rate for broadband connectivity would be achievable if the regional Bell operating companies were deploying DSL more aggressively.”

Skipping Dial-Up

In contrast to past practice, a growing number of new broadband subscribers are also new Internet users. They are skipping dial-up connections and going directly to high-speed service.

“We looked at anybody who was new to high-speed in that last six months, and 16 percent say they went directly to high speed,” says Peggy Schoener, a senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest’s worldwide Telecommunications and Networking group. “They didn’t have dial-up first and then grow their way into high speed.”

The lion’s share of today’s high-speed market is ruled by cable modem, which accounts for about 55 per cent of broadband customers, according to Gartner Dataquest. DSL service pulls in about 26 per cent of users and newer technologies like fixed wireless and satellite services account for another five per cent. The remainder of high-speed users is served by ISDN, an expensive predecessor to DSL technology that allows faster hook-ups via conventional telephone lines.