June 23, 2002

How Broadband Connections Change Online Life

24 million Americans have high-speed access at home and they use the Internet in dramatically different ways from dial-up users

WASHINGTON (June 23) — Americans with high-speed Internet connections at home are strikingly different from dial-up Internet users in three ways:

First, they use their broadband connections to create content that they post online and they share many of their files with other Internet users. All told, 59% of broadband users have created content such as their own Web sites or shared their files with others online.

Second, the range of their online world is much greater than dial-up users. Broadband users have done substantially more Internet activities than dial-up users such as getting news, purchasing products, checking for health information, accessing government Web sites, doing work-related research, and pursuing their hobbies.

Third, a typical broadband user performs an average of seven Internet activities on any given day, more than twice the number of a typical dial-up user. The “always-on” aspect of the Internet connection is as important to them as the speed of it.

A new survey of home broadband users by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that the act of getting high-speed Internet access changes Americans” online behavior: They spend more time online, do more things, and do them more often than dial-up Internet users. They also high levels of satisfaction with the way the Internet helps them connect to family and friends, learn new things, pursue their hobbies, do their jobs, and connect to local organizations.

Access to these new Internet experiences also changes the way people spend their time. Many report that they spend less time watching television, less time shopping in stores, less time working at their offices, less time reading newspapers, and more time working at home.

The Project”s report, called “The Broadband Difference,” also finds that home high-speed Internet adoption is steadily growing, with 12% of all Americans-24 million people-now enjoying broadband in the home; this is 21% of all U.S. adult Internet users and it is up from 6 million home broadband users that the Project first tracking in June 2000.

“When people get an always on, high-speed connection, they treat the Internet as a ”go to” tool for a wide range of information and communication needs,” said Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “The most elite users have clearly adopted a broadband lifestyle that is built around finding, generating, and manipulating digital content. They are shaping the character of the online world every day.”

Some highlights from the survey of 507 broadband users conducted between January 29 and February 20 this year (the margin of error is plus or minus four points):

  • 39% of broadband users have at one time or another created online content, by building or adding material to Web sites, posting comments or material to online bulletin boards, or creating an online diary. Some 16% of broadband users create content on a typical day.
  • 43% of broadband users share files from the computers with other Internet users. Some 17% of broadband users do this on a typical day.
  • 63% of broadband users have downloaded games, videos, or pictures, and half have downloaded music. About one in five do these things on a typical day.
  • 49% of broadband users access some kind of multimedia content during a typical day online – such as streaming videos or audio or playing games.
  • Broadband users spend about 95 minutes online on the average day compared to 83 minutes for dial-up users. Fully 82% of broadband users are online on the average day compared with 58% of dial-up users.
  • 55% of broadband users have networked all the computers in their homes so they all have access to the high-speed connection.
  • One third of broadband users telecommute.

    “Broadband users drive both in both directions on the information superhighway,” said John B. Horrigan, Senior Research Specialist with the Pew Internet Project. “With their tendencies to create and post online content, they value not only fast uploading speeds, but also an open Internet. This allows them to reach the widest audience for their content and gives them the greatest range of sources to satisfy their voracious appetite for information.”

    The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonpartisan, independent research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to study the impact of the Internet on families, communities, health care, education, civic and political life, and the work place.