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Online services control Net access

Online services are connecting 70 percent of U.S. surfers to the Net, with ISPs picking up the slack, according to the Software Publisher's Association.

Online services are connecting 70 percent of U.S. surfers to the Net, with ISPs picking up the rest, according to this year's Consumer Survey Report by the Software Publisher's Association.

The SPA is a major trade association for the software industry with 1,200 member companies in the United States. The survey of 500 PC owners also found that 70 percent of respondents used the Web, accessing research and educational sites the most.

"People accessing the Internet through an ISP are more likely than online service users to seek out educational sites. Perhaps reflecting past pricing plans, ISP users are still more likely to simply 'surf the Net' than are those coming through online services," the report states.

Although more people connect through online services, ISP customers use the Net about two hours more per week. Another noticeable finding is that only 21 percent say they have made purchases online; this small number is attributed to security concerns and fear of scams.

The survey's findings also underscore some major trends seen in online content development markets. For example, parents use the Net about three hours per week more than those without kids, the survey states.

Online services are known for their kid-friendly content. In March, the Walt Disney Company partnered with Microsoft Network to deliver online games for children, stories, sports, and content for parents.

Women are more likely than men to browse educational and travel sites, the study says. But men are more likely to seek financial, sports, and technology sites. This is reflected by recent major Web deals such as the partnership between CBS and Sportsline and the popularity of PointCast and Quote.com, which push financial information to users.