The number of online adults as of April reached 163 million, a 4 percent increase over eight month ago, market researcher Harris Interactive said. Fully 74 percent of adults are online at home, in the office, at school, the library or other location, a 1 percent increase over the summer of 2004. In 2000, 57 percent of U.S. adults were online.
But the most striking change was the increase in broadband use, Harris said. Fifty-four percent of online adults said they accessed the Internet over broadband at home, compared to 37 percent in December of 2003
The big jump in broadband penetration is good news for Internet companies, which can offer more advanced services, such as Internet telephony, web conferencing and photo and music sharing, that require higher bandwidths.
Harris, which based its findings on a telephone survey of more than 2,000 adults, said the increase in the number of people online was due to the rise in Internet access at locations other than at work and at home. Adults who are online at libraries, schools and other places rose to 21 percent from 17 percent in 2004.
Adults accessing the Internet at home and at work increased 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively, to 66 percent and 36 percent.
As Internet penetration rises, the demographic profile for Internet users is moving closing to that of the nation as a whole, Harris said. For example, 8 percent of people age 65 or older wer online, compared to 15 percent of all adults who are in that age category; and 16 percent have annual incomes of less than $25,000, compared to 21 percent of all U.S. adults.
Penetration, however, remains highest among younger and more affluent adults.