April 22, 2008, 12:00 AM

112 million U.S. adults have broadband at home, up 300% from 2002

The top local market for broadband penetration is San Francisco, where 62% of adults live in households with high-speed connections, says Scarborough Research. Those with broadband access buy online more often, the survey shows.

The percentage of U.S. households with broadband Internet connections has grown from 12% in 2002 to 49% today, and 112 million U.S. adults now have high-speed web access at home, according to a study by Scarborough Research.

“There is an increasing need for more high-speed Internet connectivity as it enables fast and efficient delivery of rich media content,” says Gary Meo, senior vice president of digital media services at Scarborough Research. “Consumers clearly are demanding more speed in order to upload, download, post and interact with content in a Web 2.0 environment.”

The study, based on a panel of 220,000 adults 18 and older, found significant regional variation in broadband penetration. San Francisco topped the list, with 62% of adults living in households with broadband web access, followed by Boston and San Diego at 61%. At the bottom of the list was Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA, at 29% and Charleston/Huntington, WV, at 33%. Most of the markets with low broadband penetration are in the South and Southwest, Meo says.

Not surprisingly, adults with broadband access are more likely to use the Internet, including for shopping. For instance, 10% of those with broadband access have spent $2,500 or more online in the past year, compared with 8% of all adults. That means adults with broadband at home are 23% more likely to have spent at least $2,500 online in the past year. They are 20% more likely than average to have spent between $1,000 and $1,500 and 12% more likely to have spent between $500 and $1,000, the survey shows.

They also use the Internet in other ways, being 30% more likely than the average American to have downloaded podcasts during the past month, 29% more likely to have downloaded or watched TV programs and 27% more likely to have downloaded or listened to audio clips, according to the Scarborough Research data.

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