An increasing number of Americans are surfing the Web using high-speed connections from home, recent studies show. This development bodes well for the online travel industry, for it means that consumers can fully enjoy the Web’s ‘dream-making’ capabilities.
The Web is the perfect medium for travel, which is an intangible product that shows itself well on the Web, whose multimedia capabilities easily convey the richness and variety of a destination or type of vacation. But dial-up connections can frustrate consumers with their slowness—especially consumers accustomed to high-speed access at work.
Consumers with high-speed access at home still make up a small piece of the pie. In the fourth quarter of 2000 and first quarter of this year, five million households were accessing the Internet through high-speed connections each month compared to more than 37 million households using dial-up connections, according to CENTRIS, an Internet and consumer electronic research firm.
But, their numbers are growing. According to an Internet ratings report from Nielsen/NetRatings, high-speed (or broadband) access soared 134 percent in the past year. Nearly 16 million users accessed the Internet from home last month via cable modem, DSL or ISDN, compared with 6.8 million in April 2000.
So what does this all mean for online travel providers? Consumers with faster access times are more likely to buy online. CENTRIS research has found that broadband households are 60% more likely to buy online and spend an average of 38% more than dial-up households do.
The rapid deployment of broadband services by telecom providers is in part due to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to implement the pro-competitive, deregulatory provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
High-speed lines connecting homes and small businesses to the Internet increased by 57% during the first half of 2000, with high-speed service subscribers found in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and in about 70% of the nation`s zip codes, compared to 59% at the end of 1999, the FCC reports.
Nielsen/NetRatings reveals that New York dominates high-speed access with more than 10 percent of the country’s broadband population living in the city and the surrounding metropolitan area. Nearly six percent of the country’s high-speed Internet users reside in Los Angeles, while San Francisco and its surrounding high-tech region followed closely with 5.7 percent. Taking the No. 4 spot was Boston, with 4.7 percent. Seattle rounded out the top five with 3.6 percent.
And high-speed access is reaching beyond the cities to the less populated regions of the country. While high-speed subscribers are present in 96% of the most densely populated zip codes; 40% of zip codes with the lowest population densities also have have residents with access to broadband services. And it is in these areas where Internet access is growing the fastest. The number of sparsely populated zip codes with high-speed subscribers increased by 69% during the first half of the year, compared to an increase of 4% for the most densely populated zip codes, according to FCC research.