May 2005 Bandwidth Report - UK's Digital Divide - US Broadband Penetration Jumps to 58.5% in April

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The Bandwidth Report is a monthly roundup of connectivity trends in the US and elsewhere. Each month's bandwidth report offers the latest statistics in Internet connectivity and broadband trends.

In Britain, broadband penetration is a tale of haves and have-nots. Just as we found in Europe, relatively young and affluent areas have higher broadband penetration rates than older, less affluent constituencies. Does Labour beat the Tory party in the race for broadband supremacy? In April, U.S. broadband penetration jumped by 1.42 percentage points to 58.46% among active Internet users. At its recent growth rate, broadband penetration in the U.S. should break 60% by July 2005 at the latest. The charts below, derived from Nielsen//NetRatings and Point Topic data, show trends in connection speeds to the Internet for United States and United Kingdom users.*

Home Connectivity in the US:

Most active Internet users connect from home with broadband connections. Among narrowband users, 33.9% use 56Kbps modems, 5.12% use 28/33.3Kbps, and 2.52% use 14.4Kbps modems. In total, 41.54% of home users in the US connect to the Internet at 56Kbps or less (see Figure 1).

Broadband Growth in the US:

Broadband penetration in the US grew by 1.42 points to 58.46% in April, up from 57.04% in March. This increase is well above the average increase in broadband of 0.92 points per month over the previous twelve months. At the current growth rate, broadband penetration among active Internet users in the US should break 60% by mid-summer 2005 (see Figure 2).

Work Connectivity:

Most workers in the US enjoy high-speed connections to the Internet. Most use a high-speed line such as a T1 connection, and share bandwidth between computers connected to an Ethernet network. The speed of each connection decreases as more employees hook up to the LAN. As of April of 2005, of those connected to the Internet, 81.33% of US users at work enjoy a high-speed connection, down 0.2 percentage points from the 81.53% share in March. At work, 18.67% connect at 56Kbps or less (see Figure 3).

UK’s Digital Divide

Point Topic's founder Tim Johnson has an interesting article that maps the "digital divide" in the UK. Plotting broadband takeup over political constituencies, the maps show that relatively young and affluent areas have higher broadband penetration rates than older and less affluent constituencies (see Figure 4). UK's broadband penetration has a similar trend to Europe's Digital Divide. Seven out of the top 10 most broadband constituencies are Labour, while the more rural Wales accounts for seven of the ten least broadband constituencies in southern Britain.

The Stages of Broadband Development by Country

From AD Little's latest "Broadband Update 2005" report comes a graph showing the three development stages of broadband, emerging, growing, and mature (see Figure 5). The Pacific Rim is firmly in the lead in the mature phase with Korea leading the way at 79.2% penetration, while European countries and the US fall into the growing phase, and countries like Malasia, Brazil, and Columbia fall into the emerging phase of broadband development.

Further Reading:

Almost Three-Quarters of All U.S. Adults – An Estimated 163 million – Go Online
Over 54% of adults who go online use broadband at home says Harris Interactive. In a telephone poll of 2,022 U.S. adults Harris found that 74% are now online, up from 73% in the summer of 2004.

Broadband, the Internet and the Election - Mapping the "Digital Divide"
After the UK election, Point Topic provided a series of maps showing the "digital divide" in Britain, with broadband takeup plotted over political constituencies in England and Wales. The maps show that relatively young and prosperous constituencies had the highest broadband penetration (upwards of 37% in Cardiff) while Wales had the lowest broadband penetration rates. Point Topic, April 21, 2005.

Global Broadband Broadband Report Update 2005 (PDF)
Arthur D. Little's in-depth report on broadband includes a graph showing the different stages of broadband penetration in various countries, with Korea leading the way.

Provides the US broadband data (percentage of active Internet users) for the Bandwidth Report.

About The Bandwidth Report
The Bandwidth Report is a monthly roundup of connectivity trends in the US and elsewhere. Each month's bandwidth report offers the latest statistics in Internet connectivity and broadband trends, including:

  • Home Connectivity in the US
  • Broadband Growth in the US
  • Work Connectivity
  • Broadband Trends in the US, Canada, and other countries

The May 2005 Bandwidth Report is available at:

About Web Site Optimization
Don't Make Me Wait! The new book titled "Speed Up Your Site – Web Site Optimization" by Andy King, and the companion web site are about designing "speedy" web sites with techniques that...

  • Cut file size and download times in half
  • Speed up site load time to satisfy customers
  • Engage users with fast response times and flow stimulus
  • Increase usability, boost profits, and slash bandwidth costs
  • Improve search engine rankings and web page conversions

Andy King is also the founder of and, both award-winning developer sites from Created in 1995 and subsequently acquired by Mecklermedia (now Jupitermedia) in 1997, WebReference has grown into one of the most popular developer sites on the Internet. While he was Managing Editor of and, Andy became the "Usability Czar" at, where he optimized the speed and usability of their sites. In addition to his consulting work, he continues to write the monthly Bandwidth Report and the “Speed Tweak of the Week” for

For a review copy of "Speed Up Your Site - Web Site Optimization" (New Riders, ISBN 0-7357-1324-3) or an interview with the author, contact: Matt Hockin, 503.246.1375, matt(at) -

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