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Optimizing for broadband

dial-up is history

3:28 am on Sep 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Recently made a decision to write my sites tailored to broadband users. Will I regret it? I don't think so.

I've read discussion on WW regarding which browsers can be written off as not worth supporting. That got me to thinking about my priorities and responsibility as a webmaster of a few domains. I have been hitting my head on a self imposed ceiling limit for years regarding overall size per page. I did not want the dial-ups to suffer with load time delays. But as more and more are gaining access to broadband, where should my focus be? I don't believe the two can live together any more than partyline phones and singleline phones. I'm betting the majority of my users (I cater to users regionally in US) now have access to broadband.

I see my priority as once again rebalancing the form/function equation by adding more weight to form, thus providing my users with a richer web experience. This is in part accomplished by increasing the bandwidth I send out. I see my responsibility to encourage the progression toward broadband by writing primarily to broadband users.

Dial-ups will probably always be with us, but so will the poor. We all know eventually, the two will go hand in hand.

1:01 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It's interesting the various responses to the topic. Yet where are the statistics to support these emotions? Does the dial-up first mentality need to decrease? Dial-ups are decreasing monthly even as we ponder. <reference se=google&terms=Broadband vs. Dialup Analysis> You find any stats regarding this topic and unless you clintonize them, the trend holds true.

Bottom line >>> broadband is increasing while dial-up is decreasing.

What to do? When your segment of web publishing needs to implement change, be ready. Why? One reason is broadband users <quote se=google>spend 59 percent more time online, embark on 41 percent more sessions per month and view 34 percent more pages per session</quote> than dial-ups.

OK, when to begin focusing on broadband first. Now? Next year? Depends upon your web niche. Some now. Most later. But it will happen sooner than most assume.

1:16 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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May I ask for more details about "optimizing for broadband"? What exactly do you propose changing/adding?
1:18 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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March 2003

There was 50% growth in home broadband adoption in the past year, but the torrid growth pace will likely slow [pewinternet.org]

Today, approximately 30 million people – or 16% of all Americans – log on at home with a broadband connection.

According to a survey we conducted from October 7, 2002 through October 27, 2002 of 1,677 Americans, 71% say that they live in an area where broadband service is available; 12% say they cannot get broadband service at home, with the remainder (17%) saying they don’t know whether service is available or not. People who report they cannot get broadband are twice as likely to live in rural areas as the general population. But even with the widespread availability of broadband, most dial-up users say they are content to stick with their dial-up modem. Nearly three in five (57%) of dial-up users say they have no interest in having a faster connection at home, while 38% say they would like to upgrade to broadband. The numbers reverse, however, for those who say broadband is not available in their area. Among these people, 61% say they would like to have a faster connection with 35% saying they’re not interested in an upgrade. It seems that those who want broadband the most are those who can’t get it.

It would seem that broadband providers attracted the easiest-to-reach dial-up users between March 2002 and October 2002. Today, there are fewer dial-up users itching to make the jump to broadband and, as noted above, many who are say they live in places where broadband is unavailable.
2:21 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Is it ever bad to have a site that loads fast with a 56K?

I think that you should know the metrics of your audience. If ANY of them use a dial-up then you should present a fast loading site. Even if it's an option they have to select.

2:59 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The day Google goes broadband, is the day i will. I only have a 56k Connection and because of this fact, i dropped yahoo as my search engine provider. It took forever loading all those ads, so i switched to google.( So did the rest of the world)

I really do not think there is a need jump on to broadband at the moment. I guess you could always try an have a site ready for the future, but IMHO its not worth it.

Of these percentages of broadband users.
Lets Eliminate all government departments, states, universities , public services and corporations.

I just think the statistics are just dubious on how many people actually have broadband.

7:40 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Just to try to stay off the emotional track, the figures i've seen indicate that dialup is clearly not history yet. Not too long ago i was head of online research for the largest ISP in my country and i do watch a lot of figures and advice people based on such facts still.

In this particular country (Denmark, Europe) at least 95% of the population can have broadband - the country is very small in surface as well as population, it's like 5-6 million grand total. Here, 72% of the population use the internet(*) at least monthly and 68% have access at home. Add to this that 46% have had internet access for at least five years (87% more than two years), and it's clearly a very internet-savvy population.

Still, we have only around 10% of home users on BB, although a much higher share for business and institutions (ISDN is not considered BB, only xDSL lines, cable, dishes and such) - i don't know this exact figure but a guesstimate would be above 50% measured in number of employees, not number of firms (our business structure has a very large number of very small firms).

In US terms this country is comparable to a large and modern city afaik. So, there's definitely potential for broadband and you can even make a living off it as 10% is significant (especially if you consider business use as well), but it's not the mass market. The mass market is dialup.

So, what does the intelligent web marketer do? Well, s/he dives into the broadband niche of course, if it feels like it's a good idea - there is clearly a market potential for it. On the other hand, s/he makes sure that when "the other 90%" reach the pages, they will have the "HTML version" or "Lo-Fi" version available as an option.

Because we are on WebmasterWorld, i'll just add: The SE spiders are generally among "the other 90%".


(*) The data i refer to are not publicly available, at least not for free. Call the regional ACNielsen or TNS and they will confirm them... if you pay ;)
9:05 am on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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anchordesk it may be that a high proportion of your users will mainly be on broadband.

So yes you can add lots of features that may make them happy, video etc comes to mind. But making the general site suitable for broadband rather than any user is not something I would plan on doing for a while yet.

For example think about your own bandwidth requirements and charges if you plan on creating popular sites.

Or do you have unlimited bandwidth requirements on your hosts network?

Speaking popularity, one of the sites I visit has 7,000,000 monthly users at the moment. There is some content which is big and not really available to dial up users but in the main as far as I can see it is aimed to be functional 95% to all.

Only some features are [because of filesize] not usable to dial up visitors and these are features you would not need to use often whoever you are.

PS: if its to corporate markets, yes there is usually a fast connection into the building but when you divide that between all the potentially contending machines inside its not so fast all the time, in fact some appear quite slow at the machine level.

3:29 pm on Sept 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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71% say that they live in an area where broadband service is available

I just wonder how much of that figure includes satellite broadband. Even though satellite broadband is available everywhere, it is hardly a practical option because of its price.
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