June 2, 2005, 12:00 AM

It may be topping out, but Internet use is till growing

Growth may not be what it was in the early part of this decade, but adults gaining Internet access continue to grow in both sheer numbers and as a percent of the population, says the latest Internet audience measurement from Harris Interactive.

Growth may not be what it was in the early part of this decade, but adults gaining Internet access continue to grow in both sheer numbers and as a percent of the population, says the latest Internet audience measurement from Harris Interactive.

The number of adults online at home, in the office, at school, library or other locations has reached 163 million, a 4% increase in eight months, Harris reports. In addition, 54% of adults who are online from home now access the Internet via broadband. Three years ago, only 22% of adults accessed the Internet via broadband from home.

74% of adults are now online, up from 73% last summer, 66% in the spring of 2002, 64% in 2001 and 57% in 2000. When Harris Interactive first began to track Internet use in 1995, only 9% of adults were online.

Harris says the recent growth in Internet penetration is the result of increased Internet access at locations other than home and work. Adults who are online at a location other than their home or work rose to 21% from 17% in 2004 and 16% in 2003. The proportion of adults who are now online at home has risen to 66%, from 65% a year ago. Those online at work have risen to 36% from 34% in 2004.

Harris reports that it is still true that more young than older people and more affluent than low-income people are online. 8% of those online are now age 65 or over, compared to 15% of all adults; 38% of those online did not go to college, compared to 47% of all adults; and 16% have incomes less than $25,000, compared to 21% of all adults.

Interestingly, nearly all adults who own a computer are online-94% today vs. 35% nine years ago.

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