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The Internet

Broadband Majority in US 387

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-seems-a-bit-fishy dept.
TheSync writes "NetworkWorldFusion has a report that the majority of US Internet users now connect using broadband, according to NetRatings. There are 63 million broadband users (51%) and 61 million (49%) dial-up users in the US. Broadband was most prevalent among people ages 18 to 20."
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Broadband Majority in US

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  • Spyware? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kmmatthews (779425) * <krism@mailsnare.net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:25PM (#10015262) Homepage Journal
    Each participating household provides a profile of the users in the home, and a device connected to each Internet-linked PC in the home logs where those users go on the Internet. [Emphasis mine.]

    Wow, I'm really amazed people agreed to do this. The FA doesn't mention it, but I wonder if they were compensated in some manner.

    No way in hell I'd want someone to know how often I visit tubgirl..

    But seriously, in my mind this is akin to hardware "spyware" - I wonder if these same people would agree to having a key logger installed.. Maybe this is one of the reasons spyware is so prolific? Maybe some people just don't care what the corporate overloads know about them?

    (I never said they were smart.....)

  • College (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlosey (688472) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:28PM (#10015304)
    That age range is popular because internet and email is needed for schooling. Many college students live off campus, but need a decent connection to the internet. Many universities have much of the coursework and homework assignments online. Email is also the preferred communication method
  • by Coffee Warlord (266564) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:29PM (#10015318)
    "NetRatings, based in New York and Milpitas, Calif., used a panel of 50,000 participants selected through calls to randomly generated phone numbers. Each participating household provides a profile of the users in the home, and a device connected to each Internet-linked PC in the home logs where those users go on the Internet. Users have to log in to identify themselves when they start using the computer, Ryan said."

    Seems to me that sample size is just too low for an even remotely accurate portrayal. Personally, I still think the vast majority of folks are using dialup. There's a whole lot of people who just dial in, check their mail, log off

  • Re:Spyware? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:32PM (#10015357) Homepage
    But seriously, in my mind this is akin to hardware "spyware" - I wonder if these same people would agree to having a key logger installed..

    Probably. Remember these are typically people that don't even know what Spyware is... Hell, my fiancee's brother removed AdAware and SpyBot from a computer I installed it on "because it causes problems." He also removed the firewall for the same reason.

    Spyware be damned! We are talking about people that think WinME is the best OS ever (and no I am not kidding).
  • Not so fast... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saxton (34078) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:34PM (#10015374) Homepage
    NetRatings, based in New York and Milpitas, Calif., used a panel of 50,000 participants selected through calls to randomly generated phone numbers. Each participating household provides a profile of the users in the home, and a device connected to each Internet-linked PC in the home logs where those users go on the Internet. Users have to log in to identify themselves when they start using the computer, Ryan said.

    With that said, is it safe to assume that the people that agreed to do this would be generally more savvy than generic dialup population? Is it also safe to assume that people with broadband are generally more interested in the Internet and computers than their dialup counterparts? (and possibly therefore more likely to participate when they got that "random" call?) Granted there's huge cross-over, I may be over-generalizing, and the assumption doesn't accomidate to users that have "no other choice" than dialup, but how accurate could this possibly be?

    -Aaron
  • Re:it was ME! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:37PM (#10015416) Journal
    You had to take a half a day off? I just phoned in the MAC of the cablemodem I'd just bought. Waited about 15 minutes, and hooray, I was browsing the interweb at speeds up to 300 times faster than dial-up.

    Of course, that was bending Comcast rules at the time, and I had to sign a waiver saying that I'd be the one to pay if I fucked up and they had to roll a truck.
  • by AEton (654737) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:37PM (#10015421)
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. A basic understanding of statistics indicates that you can have 95% confidence in your results with as small a sample as about 1,000 people. 50,000 is just hedging the bet by increasing the sample fiftyfold; the confidence interval there is likely even larger.

    However, it's very likely with the 51%/49% results here that, due to the margin of error, there isn't a detectable majority of either broadband or dialup users. The statistics for qualitative questions like "what kind of Internet do you use" are a little fuzzy (i.e. way beyond what I learned in my AP=basic-college-intro-101-level Stats), but the principle is the same.

    I would absoutely trust that -about- 49% and 51% of Internet users surveyed use dialup and broadband, respectively, but I'm not sure that there's a detectable majority.
  • by olclops (591840) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:38PM (#10015438)
    "NetRatings, based in New York and Milpitas, Calif., used a panel of 50,000 participants selected through calls to randomly generated phone numbers. Each participating household provides a profile of the users in the home, and a device connected to each Internet-linked PC in the home logs where those users go on the Internet. Users have to log in to identify themselves when they start using the computer, Ryan said."

    Did the pollers stop to think that the fact that they were *calling* people might in and of itself skew the sample results? After all, people who have broadband are far more likely to answer the phone when the pollers call. No dial-up busy signals to contend with.
  • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:41PM (#10015468) Journal
    A lot of people I know don't do anything more than read email, or at best get the latest scores for their favorite sports.

    It's hard to sell these folks on the idea of paying 5 times as much by telling them it'll be "faster", when their entire online experience lasts a half hour a month.

    The "killer app" for broadband hasn't really materialized yet.

    That said, I could never go back to dialup.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:41PM (#10015473)
    The Internet (yes, the Internet) is running at the slowest speed ever, due to the clog being offered forth by the spam zombies, unpatched Windows boxes mass-scanning entire subnets due to virus and worm infection, and residential porn downloads.

    In one of those glass-half-empty deals- I'd say it's running at its fastest speed ever, because of all that garbage.

    Guess what? Nobody who matters cares. The internet isn't run on ideals and dreamy visions- it's run by backbone companies who, just like the telephone companies with telemarkets- profit from every single bit of it.

    Do you really think backbones are going to chase after their customers? Nope. They're going to happily invoice for every bit of it- whether the customer ISP is paying by the byte or needs to upgrade to a faster line, either way- the backbone provider wins. I don't think you'll see them leaping for joy at anti-spam and spyware laws- they'll claim free speech this or that, but in reality be only concerned about loosing traffic that they can bill for.

    If bandwidth used by DDoS's and spam couldn't be charged for, the problem would have been stamped out a long, long, long time ago by ISPs and backbones. They have the ability to stop zombies and whatnot- they just don't give a shit.

  • Re:Spyware? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:43PM (#10015496) Homepage Journal
    Everybody visits tubgirl (and other sites like it) at some point, there ain't no shame in it. Therefore- no, I don't care what the corporate overlords know about me- maybe it will help them to figure out that not everybody is the same and a few of us are plotting against them.
  • by leonara (87228) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:43PM (#10015498)
    The report says that the second largest group of users (at 58%) were children between the ages of 2 and 11. It is not as if these users can subscribe to a broadband connection by themselves! I wonder who consumes such numbers. Perhaps these numbers are used to target ads to the right group - but that would mean using services like AOL (shudder).
  • RBL time now (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mabu (178417) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:44PM (#10015510)
    Great, ok, nice.

    Now let's get down to business. Who's got the best list of the IP addresses of all these broadband blocks so we can blacklist them? It's just a matter of time before almost every single one becomes worm-infected and starts up rogue SMTP relays? I've had it with this crap.

    The majority of spam now comes from zombie machines on broadband connections. If the ISPs themselves won't release the IP lists of their DUL users, we should set up a master one ourselves so we can stop this zombie army.
  • Re:Broadband? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:47PM (#10015545) Homepage
    I'm hoping our US providers will eventually bring our country's internet to the top of the industry - or do they really like lagging behind?

    Wait a second here. You're confused. You are getting 3000/384 for $53. You are shelling out the cash and they are taking it.

    They aren't lagging behind anything but their own fattening wallets. Please be serious. They aren't interested in being the top of the world-wide industry in anything but revenue.
  • Re:College (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:50PM (#10015570) Homepage
    No, college kids are usually interested in downloading and downloading fast. College kids also tend to live in a house with others. Sharing a dialup connection on your only voice line sucks balls.

    Splitting a $50/mo Internet connection between two or three people is nothing and you still get fast movie/music/porn downloads.
  • I'd say the sample size more than sufficient. The problem is how they selected participants. If anyone you know uses dial up you'll immediately know what I mean. Try calling them. The phone is always fucking busy! NetRatings hang up, and additional numbers are called until they get the 50K participants. It's online natural selection, favoring those who do not have dialup! :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:01PM (#10015673)
    I agree a bit, but let's take the car analogy further. Let's say Alice has a Pinto. Bob runs his car into Alice's Pinto and the thing explodes, injuring Bob severely. Now, Alice should know by now that Pintos have an explosion problem and should have done something about it, such as:

    Buy a new car that doesn't have so much of an exploding issue (computer analogy: upgrade!)
    Cover the car with pillows and airbags so that it doesn't hurt anyone when it explodes (computer analogy: buy antivirus/anti-spyware/firewall software)
    Don't put any combustible fuel in the car (computer analogy: stay off the Internet)

    Alice should not be expected to do any of these things. Why? It's not her fault the car explodes--it's the manufacturer. Granted, this is an imperfect analogy (all car analogies are), but it's decent. Not all blame lies with the user. Why doesn't anyone argue that Mac and Linux users need to be more vigilant? Because their cars don't explode as easily.

    Also: consider creating policy based on this. "No Internet Service Provider may permit a computer onto the Internet unless it runs anti-virus software" ... "Sorry, sir, we have to disconnect you. I know you run Linux and there aren't any Linux viruses, but that's the law."
  • by Politburo (640618) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:08PM (#10015742)
    People don't move to rural areas to get away from the technology, they go there to get away from the cities.

    Do you know what a side effect of getting away from the cities is? Getting away from the technology. The cost for installing broadband is dependent more on the area covered than the people covered. It's trivial to run cable to 30 houses when they're all on the same block. When they're each 0.5 mi away from each other, it's not so easy, and the return on investment goes to the shitter.

    When you move out of densely populated areas, you should not expect the same level of service, be it sewers, trash collection, police and fire protection, utility service, transportation options, retail access, etc. You pay lower property taxes out there for a reason.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:24PM (#10015919) Homepage Journal
    They have the ability to stop zombies and whatnot- they just don't give a shit.

    It might not be that simple. Imagine if the backbone providers did exercise this supposed power and used it to squish zombies and other Internet Undead. Something tells me there would be a hue and cry about excessive corporate power over the Internet.

    Backbone providers likely see it as a utility. You can use electricity to power a hospital or power a meth lab. It's essentially out of their purvue, and they likely want to stay out of policing what people do with the bandwidth they provide. It's good business, and it's probably better for the rest of us, too.

  • Re:Spyware? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grym (725290) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:57PM (#10016317)

    I refused to help from then on out. Let him handle it when the machine is so slow and the webpages won't load properly.

    That's just it. He won't handle it. It'll be one of us technically inclined people, in the end. I don't know how many calls I got as an ISP tech that ended up being due to spyware because people think slow page loads mean "my interweb service provider is slow."

    -Grym

  • by Woody77 (118089) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:05PM (#10016400)
    Your taking it in the wrong direction. If Alice has failed to maintain her car, for instance not getting the brake inspected (and pads replaced when needed), and then fails to stop at a stop-sign one day, and hits Bob (who's walking across the street at the pedestrian crosswalk just past the stop-sign), then she's held responsible for that.

    The fact that she hit him because her brakes failed when she was trying to stop doesn't change the fact that she's negligent for not having properly maintained her vehicle.

    The same applies to the 'net. People who are negligent about maintaining their computer, whose computers are compromised and then used to "do wrong" (ie, spam bots, DDoS, etc) are partially responsible for the hijaker in the first place.

    Some states have laws that if someone breaks into your house, and steals you gun, YOU are responsible for anything they then do with that gun. The logic being that a gun is a dangerous weapon (as is a car), and must be properly stored (ie, if they crack your gun-safe, it's a bit different, but loaded and next to the (unlocked) front door is considered negligent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:20PM (#10016568)
    I think you're taking it in the wrong direction. Alice is just sitting there at the intersection. She doesn't know she's even sitting on a bomb. Just like a user on the Internet with an unpatched Windows computer. By doing NOTHING, Alice just...BOOM...innocent bystanders everywhere. In your scenario, Alice has to be driving the car.

    Admittedly Microsoft is better-behaved as a manufacturer than Ford. Ford didn't offer much of a safety upgrade to Pinto users. Microsoft at least offers some updates. Car analogies are always bad.

    The problem is that you can only make a Pinto so safe without simply replacing the car, no matter how many updates Ford offers, and how rapidly and competently their customers install them. I think that's where the computer parallel is strongest.
  • by Jamie Zawinski (775) <jwz@jwz.org> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:33PM (#10016706) Homepage
    I like how they don't even bother to define the term. Do they mean "faster than 56k", or do they mean "always on", or what?
  • by bfields (66644) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:59PM (#10017523) Homepage
    Broadband penetration in Europe hasn't even reached 20%:

    http://www.dmeurope.com/default.asp?ArticleID=18 96

    Thanks for the link, but note that that 20% is a percentage of all households, while the 51% is a percentage of all households that already have some kind of internet usage. From these two articles, it looks to me like the rates are actually in the same ballpark between the US and Europe; but unfortunately, I can't find numbers that are actually comparable; can anyone else?

    --Bruce Fields

  • Then why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:32PM (#10018298)
    If 49% of people are (like me) still on dial-up, then why are there so many websites that only work well on broadband?

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

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