comScore data reveal that the number of Internet users accessing the web though a broadband connection at home has increased by 9% in just six months (March 2003 versus October 2002). This compares to a decrease in dial-up users of 2% in the same period. In March, fully 28% of all home Internet users accessed the Internet via broadband connection.
One of the most attractive benefits of broadband is a superior connection speed. But interestingly, comScore has found that throughput speed varies greatly by the type of broadband connection. In fact, contrary to a widely held belief, the average cable modem connection was more than 50% faster than the average DSL connection. Moreover, comScore found that connection speed also varies significantly across broadband providers.
"Packaged services and discount incentives offered by broadband providers have had a major impact on establishing a strong base of initial customers," said David Shipps, vice president of Telecommunications Solutions at comScore Networks. "But in most geographic areas, competition between multiple providers has created intense pricing pressure, so performance metrics such as connection speed are likely to become an increasingly important factor, both for consumers selecting a broadband provider and as a part of providers' sales and marketing efforts."
As the Internet shifts in content from predominantly text and static graphics to streaming video and other bandwidth intensive media, connection speed will become an increasingly important determinant of the quality of a user's experience. In order to maintain a satisfied and loyal customer base, broadband providers need a clear understanding of the performance of their network - and their competitors' networks - at the user level.
"Recent announcements by major media companies introducing new bandwidth intensive services targeted specifically at broadband users are an indication of a major shift in the type of content available to Internet users," said Shipps. "As consumers seek to fully utilize the dynamic and interactive potential of the Internet, they will increasingly demand faster connection speeds and a higher quality of service."