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Video Usage May Drive U.S. Broadband Revolt


eMarketer reports that while most mainstream U.S. consumers may not care much about the broadband access speed that they have at home, they are very interested in continuing to gain access to the vast array of video content that's readily available to them via the public Internet.

The number of online video viewers continues to grow, while the number of videos viewed skyrockets. Nearly 183 million U.S. internet users watched an average of 186 videos per viewer during the month of May, for a total of 34 billion videos, according to comScore.

U.S. households are also becoming more networked, as consumers buy more and more internet-enabled consumer electronics (CE) devices. A joint report from In-Stat and Capgemini predicts that by 2013, nearly 57 million U.S. households will own these devices.

All that multimedia traffic requires an adequate broadband speed -- an area where the U.S. lags behind many other countries. According to a 2009 report from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, the U.S. does not make the top 10 list of broadband leaders -- when measuring household penetration and quality of connection.

However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that most adult broadband users are "fairly satisfied" with the speed of their home internet connections -- though four out of five could not say what that speed was exactly.

The FCC offers a free test for internet users to measure their connection speed at the broadband.gov website. Men apparently professed to be more knowledgeable: Just 71 percent admitted ignorance, compared with 90 percent of women.

Another survey from the Leichtman Research Group shows these findings are not a fluke: 77 percent of adults could not say what their home broadband connection speed was, or what it was supposed to be.

Yet 71 percent of respondents agreed they were "very satisfied" with whatever speed they were getting. In contrast, the FCC survey uncovered that only 50 percent were satisfied.

Clearly, a sudden rise in over-the-top video streaming demand could shift consumer perception, from passive acceptance to active indignation. As U.S. consumers view more and more HD-quality video -- and create their own video on HD camcorders -- they may quickly discover that their Internet service provider's current access speed is totally unacceptable.

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