June 17, 2003 11:35 AM PDT

Broadband use continues strong growth

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The number of U.S. consumers using broadband technology to access the Internet has reached nearly 40 million--the highest level to date--as people continue to shed slower dial-up services in droves, according to a study.

The number of broadband, or high-speed, subscribers swelled by 49 percent in May compared with the same period last year, while the number of narrowband users dropped 12 percent, according to the lastest returns from Internet measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

Dial-up access still has a commanding presence, accounting for nearly twice as many users as those of broadband in the United States. The gulf, however, is narrowing: Last year there were three times as many dial-up users as there were broadband users.

The increase in the number of broadband users reflects the growing awareness by consumers of the technology?s potential--from viewing video online to downloading music. The broadband push is also being driven by declining costs.

"Clearly, people are discovering the perks of high-speed access, from streaming video and audio to rich media," said Marc Ryan, a Nielsen/NetRatings analyst.

The study also found that students--of which there are 7.8 million users--comprise the largest body in the broadband sphere, having grown 51 percent since last year.


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