North America’s 23.1 million broadband households are more likely than their dial-up counterparts to shop, bank, book travel, get healthcare information, and research products online. Additionally, these consumers are more likely to adopt connected devices and new technologies like home networks. Although broadband households are not yet mainstream, this segment of consumers, according to Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is projected to triple by 2009.

Forrester’s annual Consumer Technographics™ 2004 North American Benchmark Study is a survey of 60,010 North American households. It contains 660 data points in categories like devices, telecom, retail, healthcare, and finance and data on 218 consumer brands.

Broadband’s Impact

Forrester’s data shows that broadband access significantly impacts how consumers use the Internet, what connected devices they own, at what rate they are adopting devices and new technologies, and how they spend their time online and offline. Key data points from this year’s survey include:

Online Access

  • 19.4 percent of North American households connect to the Internet using broadband connections, up 4.3 million households from last year.
  • Although cable companies serve 60.6 percent of the broadband households, consumers are choosing DSL over cable at a higher rate — between 2001 and 2003, DSL connections grew by 5.7 percent while cable subscribers fell 6.5 percent.
  • Of more than 30 online activities, email is the most important activity for online consumers. The percentage of broadband users increases significantly for activities like downloading music and videos, visiting comparison-shopping sites, and using photo-sharing sites.

Device Ownership

  • Consumers’ increasing desire to access the Internet from multiple rooms in their homes is creating a rapidly growing market for home networks, which Forrester projects to grow from 10 million households in 2003 to more than 46 million households by 2009.
  • Camera phones and digital video recorders (DVRs) will see tremendous growth over the next five years. DVRs will grow tenfold by 2009, and camera phones will reach 58 million households by 2009, up from 2.7 million in 2003.
  • Almost two-thirds of households have mobile phones. And while mobile adoption has slowed, the number of phones in wireless households continues to grow — more than half of households with wireless plans have more than one phone.

Consumer Behavior

  • Online consumers use media differently than those who are not connected to the Internet. Broadband users, for instance, spend the most time on the Internet; online users spend noticeably less time watching TV.
  • Households with broadband earn 27 percent more, spend 52 percent more time online, and are more optimistic about technology than dial-up consumers. They are also more likely to shop online and have spent over $80 more in the past three months than dial-up users.
  • Two in five households bank online, up from one-third last year. More than half of all US broadband households check their account balances online, and one-third pay bills online.