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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Internet

Big growth, slower speeds ahead

Three studies show that Internet users have doubled, but a fourth predicts that they will encounter slower speeds.

The number of people on the Internet has more than doubled in the last year, according to three independent studies released today. That means:

--a boom for online commerce.
--big growth for online advertising.
--a greater concern for online security.

But, according to yet another study on bandwidth, all of these findings will affect people at slower speeds.

A joint study conducted by Jupiter Communications and Find/SVP (FSVP) estimates that the number of people using the Internet from home has more than doubled, to 14.7 million households from 6.2 million in 1995. The study, sponsored by nearly 20 major corporations, also concludes that people who own personal computers are likely candidates to use online financial services.

The study states that more than half of all PC-owning households--55 percent--use their computers to manage finances, adding that 9.2 million households use online or Internet financial services.

"We're seeing tremendous growth in home Internet usage led by both baby boomers and younger householders," said Thomas Miller, a vice president of FIND/SVP. "Many of these users are already using their PC for financial management and see great potential value in emerging online and electronic financial services."

With all those people going online, it's no wonder that another study concludes that online advertising is becoming the largest-growing segment of the Internet.

So far this year, advertising has had a market share of 3.4 percent or $85 million, according to a research conducted by Frost & Sullivan, an international marketing consulting company. But advertising is projected to grow to 22.2 percent of the market share--or $5.48 billion by 2002.

And even with the big push for broadband, or faster, access to the Internet, a big chunk of Netizens still will be seeing those ads with relatively slower connections, according to a report by Communications Industry Researchers.

The report concludes that even by the year 2006, narrowband access revenues will be worth almost $80 million. Why? Because narrowband access will be cheaper than broadband connections.

"We believe that high-speed network access is the wave of the future," said Lawrence Gasman, project manager in a written statement. "But don't expect the narrowband infrastructure to go away any time soon."

No matter how people are logging on, they'll certainly be interested in one thing: computer security online and off. And they should be, according to a the fourth annual Earnst & Young LLP/INformationWeek Informations Security Survey.

Seventy-one percent of the executives surveyed expressed a lack of confidence in the security of their computer networks, from both internal and external attacks, according to the survey.

The study also revealed that in the past two years, 78 percent of the survey's 1,320 participants lost information to viruses and other problems, according to the survey.

Thirty-two percent of the losses were attributed to malicious acts by company insiders; 18 percent were attributed to malicious acts by outsiders; 25 percent were caused by natural disasters; and industry espionage caused six percent of the problems.