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Accessibility and Usability Forum

40 percent in US lack home broadband

 7:06 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Roughly 40 percent of Americans do not have high-speed Internet access at home, according to new Commerce Department... [google.com...]

This along with slow Internet connections shows why load speed is so important. I'm not talking keeping under 200k. I'm talking keep it under 80k. People need to know that page load time hurts sales.



 7:11 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I shoot for under 20k, but then again I don't use JS or AJAX (very limited) which makes that possible. That's the neat and quick commercial sites. My hobby site I simply warn that SOME of the pages might take a bit of time to download and some of those offerings are in the 1mb to 3mb size.


 10:11 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>do not have high-speed Internet access at home

yes but the imprtant point is 'at home'

a lot of my customers do their shoping in the day time - presumably while they are at work.

although i totally agree with page sizes, i'm both old and old school! i try to keep my pages, small, uncluttered and js free, as far as possible.


 11:11 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

To start with what do they mean by "high speed"?
The same article seems to be mixing comments on ordinary broadband and high speed broadband. 40% without fibre to home quality connections (what I think of as "high speed")isn't exactly suprising. 40% still on dial up sounds bad.


 5:27 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

topr8 - that's a good point.

We can't get get true high speed internet at home. We finally got satellite two weeks ago after getting an easement from a neighbor to put a dish on their property (no line of sight from ours), trenching, running conduit, etc. But I digress.

My wife has high-speed at work, and we had access to DSL at other locations.

Not true for most of our neighbors, and satellite dishes have been springing up like crazy in the last two years. Two years ago there were two people in the 'hood with satellite. Now I know of about ten (out of perhaps 25 full-time households).

Anyway, satellite still sucks (the latency is a killer and it bogs down horribly in the evenings).

The main issue is that sites with lots of little files can just seize up (Yahoo mail is almost better over 26Kb dialup).

So looking at a YSlow analysis is likely relevant. CSS sprites would be more important for a satellite user than, say, JPEG optimization in general.

And also, realize that many areas that can't get DSL can't because they, like us are on pair-gain systems, commonly used in rural areas to serve many homes off one copper pair. Most pair-gain systems can only handle 26Kbps on dialup. In fact, I have never lived someplace where I could get dialup at faster than 26Kbps. So if you see "dialup" and think "56K", you need to cut that in half again.

And a point I made previously (I think the last time Ogletree brought up something similar)...

I would guess the 40% is comprised of two groups: the poor and the rural. The poor are likely not spending a lot online anyway.

But as I've often said, if you're too far out to get DSL, you're likely too far out to get to the store easily. In our case, it's 2-2.5 hours to the nearest Target, Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Borders, etc. It's 1 hour to the hardware store, auto parts store.

So if I need a new keyboard, for example, it's 4 hours in the car and $20 in gas.

Am I more or less likely to buy online that someone who lives in the city?

Am I more or less sensitive to shipping costs?

If the same keyboard actually costs an extra $5 online, plus an extra $10 in shipping, it's still often cheaper and easier for rural people to buy online and lots of these people are on slow connections and will become repeat customers.


 7:58 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)


This information from Google is quite enlightening. As you mentioned in an earlier post, I use the statistics from Google Analytics to make a lot of my decisions regarding web design and implementation. I have < 3% using dial-up but 21% as unknown. This is also the first time I have heard of the pair-gain systems used in rural areas.

I am starting the re-design of my main website primarily to enhance the navigation but also to finish the additional content that I was not able to complete when I began the site 3 years ago. Accessibility and Usability are of the highest concerns to me and page size now will be one of my elevated priorities.



 8:33 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well its not a provocation, but when you are in the US its as if you go back in time 10-15 years, so the broadband issue dont surprise me, they still have the electric cables in the air.


 1:57 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Zeus - no provocation taken. It's just the sad truth.

The US suffers from a problem with respect to electricity, internet and the mobile telephone system in terms of

1. being the first country to roll out those technologies on a broad basis, meaning that the infrastructure was built before a lot of problems were recognized, and therefore didn't benefit from next gen technologies

2. Low population densities, which makes infrastructure more expensive per capita than Europe or Japan. I think this is the biggest problem. Looking at our neighborhood, for example, in densely-populated California, they would need to run cable about 25 miles to provide reliable DSL here. That of course is farther than you can go from the CO, so they would also have to create a couple of COs along the way to boost the signal. For that, they would serve about 20 households and no businesses (aside from home-based businesses). So they would have to run over a mile of wire per household to bring our phone system up to snuff to be able to handle DSL via a ground-based system (the other option, I imagine, would be some high-bandwidth microwave system, but I've been told that they are afraid to build a system like that on the only reasonable spot because there are too many lightning strikes). Go to a place like Montana and it would be many times worse.

Couple this with incentives that incentivize service provision and service generation, but not distribution networks. I'm looking for generic terms - I mean for example that with respect to electricity, generation and provision to end users are where the profit is, but the incentives are poor for maintaining/upgrading the distribution network. So of course, there is a shortage of investment in the distribution networks.


 10:21 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I live in Florida and I know many people in mobile jobs. When they can get a decent signal with their air-card, it is only comparable to dial-up.

I have also noticed an increase in mobile user on my site and I expect mobile grow maybe exponentially on a yearly basics at least for a while. I borrow my friends IPOD to look at my website from time to time and while I have a lot of fun getting it to work for me, the speed is still just (comparable to dial-up).

An interesting note about my dial up users (according to my Google Analytics they amount to a little less than 3%). They have the lowest bounce rate, most page visits and longest time on site. What's up with that? Where can I find more dial-up users?



 11:20 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

How does it look in Canada, never been there, but are they also behind in Broadband.


 7:27 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>Where can I find more dial-up users?

Wait, didn't I just tell you that?


 12:38 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

According to my Analytics stats my U.S. user connection speed breakdown is as follow:
  • 35% cable
  • 25% T-1
  • 21% unknown
  • 17% DSL
  • 15% dialup
Like mentioned by tpeacock above, my dialup users have the lowest bounce rate and highest pages per visit of users.

I cross compared my different connection speed groups and my AdSense revenues and interestingly enough, my dialup users also represented my highest eCPM group. On top of that, the faster the connection speed, the lower the eCPM tended to be.


 5:35 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Very interesting what you say tpeackock and KenB.

I would expect dialup users to have the highest conversion rate, the lowest bounce rate, but fewer pages per visit. I'm wondering bounces aren't bringing down the pages per visitor for your high-speed users.

In other words, my logic is like this (based on unfortunate extensive experience on dialup and many conversations with neighbors about surfing habits).

1. Dailup users typically have a task-oriented approach to the internet.

They get online to do something specific, and typically do that and not a lot more. So my neighbor logs in every evening and checks his email, plays an online backgammon game, and if he needs to, shops for stuff. He doesn't do a whole lot of Google searching or random clicking.

2. On the other hand, as I say, people in our area are on dialup because there is no DSL or cable available and that's because it's rural, which means that people are very far from stores and online purchases become much more attractive.

So people tend to get online to buy something, and then do so. Shopping around is painful on dialup, so they tend to be a little less price-sensitive.

So I'm not surprised by the low bounce and high conversion - they have a task, found you and now they're ready to buy.

I am surprised by the high page views and the high AdSense CTR. I wonder if it's because the high-speed users page views are brought down by bouncers. And I suppose the Adsense CTR could have to do with dialup users being less jaded and more willing to clikc on ads.


 5:05 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

My site doesn't sell stuff, it is an informational/content site. Here is my theory:

Dialup users are used to taking things slower. As such they probably tend to look around a page more while it is loading. In my case, the content stuff loads very quickly so users can get on with reading while everything else (e.g. ads) load. Being as they do tend to take things slower and look around more. They may be more apt to visit more pages on a site, especially if it loaded in a reasonable time frame. Looking around more might also mean they have less ad blindness.

Broadband users on the other hand are less patient and jump in and out of sites very quickly without looking. If they don't see what they want instantly they jump back out rather than scrolling down the page or looking around a little.

I have no idea if this is true or not but it seems reasonable and I do notice the faster the Internet connection the lower the pages per visit and lower the eCPM.


 5:11 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

One other thing - if they're internet savvy, a dialup user surfs like this:

1. find page worth reading.
2. Scan for links that seem interesting and open them in background tabs
3. Read page one while other pages load.
4. Move onto another page.
5. Repeat.


 10:17 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

One other thing - if they're internet savvy, a dialup user surfs like this:

Good points. This could explain the higher pages per visit of dialup users.


 10:25 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I still maintain a dialup account (it's free, as in no cost) and do search differently when in that mode... but I do search (Bing these days) and if the page is set up correctly (content first, images second... if I don't have images turned OFF) and the site has what I'm looking for I might click a few other pages to follow up. But for email, forums, and most blogs, dialup still works pretty good.

That said, I do MOST of my internet via DSL mid-range (256-384k) because it is cheap(er) than the premium accounts... and is fast enough to watch vids without spending too much.

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