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20% would pay for faster access

A new study shows that nearly one in five U.S. households is willing to fork out $40 a month for high-speed Internet access.

A new study shows that nearly one in five U.S. households is willing to fork out $40 a month for high-speed Internet access.

The survey is an ambitious prediction of Net-related growth considering that only one-third of U.S. households own a PC and fewer still log on to the Net. The Strategis Group, an industry consulting firm, based its findings on a national survey of 500 households.

The survey also revealed that residential online subscribers spend about six hours per week on the Net, including four hours on the Web and online information services. Online households typically send and receive nine emails a week, the study adds.

But the country has a long way to go to meet the study's expectations.

By its own admission less than 150,000 homes will subscribe to high-speed services by the end of this year.

But it forecasts that nearly 8 million homes will subscribe by 2001, generating revenues of $4 billion annually.

One reason: higher speed is required for mass-market usage. Many companies, including @Home, Time Warner, and Continental Cablevision on the cable side, and Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell on the telco side, are gearing up such efforts.