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Report: PC Owners Stay Offline at Home, Shop at Work

By Nora Macaluso
Jan 10, 2002 11:53 AM PT

While many households still lack Internet access because of price barriers, others who can afford to go online at home are choosing not to for a variety of reasons, including ready access to the Net at work, according to a new report from the Yankee Group.

Report: PC Owners Stay Offline at Home, Shop at Work

Those reasons indicate that the trend is not about to change, said Yankee. By 2005, there will still be more than 800,000 PC-owning households in the United States that still do not have PC-based Web access, said Yankee Group analyst Rob Lancaster.

"Historically, there has been a group of Internet users in the United States that have chosen not to have Internet access at home," Lancaster said.

"A lot of technologies never reach 100 percent," Yankee's Lisa Melsted told the E-Commerce Times. "You think everybody has a telephone, but not everybody does."

Got Access?

Yankee said 7 percent of Internet users who also own PCs at home do not have Web access for those computers. For families earning US$25,000 per year or less, the main reason is cost, which was cited by 72 percent of the survey's respondents.

However, 12 percent of low-income users said they did not have home Internet service because they already have access to the Web at work or school; another 10 percent said they do not want to tie up the phone line with a computer; 6 percent said they do not want their children to access the Web, and 4 percent cited "difficulty of use."

Melsted said the cost issue is not insurmountable, since there are some providers that still offer free Web access.

Spoiled at Work

Among users with incomes of more than $75,000, the main reason for eschewing Web access at home was the same as for lower-income respondents: Forty-seven percent said they already have it at work or school. Expense was cited by 21 percent of the higher-income respondents; followed by not wanting to tie up the phone line (12 percent); difficulty of use (11 percent) and lack of interest (11 percent).

In fact, work is where many people do their Web surfing and buying. A December report from Nielsen//NetRatings found that nearly half of 2001's online holiday shopping was being done at work.

Speed Counts

Moreover, most workplaces offer speedier connections than the dial-up services the casual home user might choose, said Melsted.

Many Web users, she said, are "spoiled" by fast networks at work and get frustrated with slow download times at home.

"That may hold some people back until broadband is available in their areas," Melsted said.

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