The Center for the Digital Future has been studying the behaviour of Internet users and non-users since 2000. Its research shows that when people have continuous access to the Net, and the ability to quickly download content to their computing device, their use of the net changes completely. As Jeff Cole, the Centre’s director, put it after reviewing the results of their 2004 study, “The ‘always on’ feature of broadband will have significant effects on Internet use, creating change for users that is almost as great as the difference between Internet access and not having access at all.”
Ever since 2004 when this phenomenon first became large enough to be measured, broadband usage, or “penetration” has been steadily increasing. Instead of “going on line” in concentrated, short bursts of time, which was the case in the dial-up world, broadband internet users incorporate being on the net into their daily activities, making the Net more of an integrative experience rather than a disruptive one. In particular, the Center’s 2004 study showed that broadband users incorporate being on the net, – “doing their job from home, instant messaging, playing games, seeking entertainment information, using online auctions, and “downloading music” – than did those who used a dial-up modem to access the Net. Furthermore, the increasing speed at which consumers and businesses can acquire their information using a broadband, always-on connection enables them to download larger and larger files, which in turn makes the Net a new channel for distributing entertainment and information of all kinds.
And for most millennials, it is the world of broadband access to the Internet that is the only world they have known.
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