Tech Industry

Study: U.S. getting hooked on high-speed Net

The number of Americans connecting to the Internet over broadband is growing at a rapid rate, according to a new Nielsen/NetRatings report.

The number of Americans connecting to the Internet over broadband is growing at a rapid rate, according to a new Nielsen/NetRatings report.

Nearly 49.5 million Americans, or 38 percent of all home Internet users in the United States, now use a broadband connection to go online, said the report, released on Thursday. That figure represents a 27 percent increase since May 2003. The survey found no increase in the total number of homes using narrowband, which remained static at 69.6 million.

A study conducted by the International Telecommunications Union last year predicted that broadband penetration in the United States could reach 25 percent of the population at a faster rate than PCs and mobile phones saw.

Broadband providers--such as phone companies that offer digital subscriber line (DSL) service, and cable companies--have been reporting a steady growth in broadband customers, despite having had problems in installing high-speed lines. Aggressive price cuts for DSL connections are boosting subscriber numbers.

"The increase in broadband connections indicates users are seeking ways to improve their Internet experience," Marc Ryan, a director of analysis at Nielsen/NetRating, said in a statement. "Moving to a high-speed connection opens the door to a number of new content possibilities, driving further evolution of the Internet and facilitating bandwidth-intensive applications like digital music downloading."

The increased number of broadband connections is spurring the use of applications like on-demand video and flash-based content in advertising, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. In November 2003, 17 percent of all online advertising impressions were rich media ads--a jump of 10 percentage points from November 2002. Non-rich media ads decreased 10 percentage points from a 93 percent share in November 2002 to 83 percent in November 2003.