Broadband Usage Poised to Eclipse Narrowband in Largest U.S. Markets

Comscore Networks Releases Fourth Quarter ISP Market Share Report

RESTON, Va., March 10, 2004 – Comscore Networks today released an analysis of broadband penetration at both the national and local market levels based on consumer behavior in the fourth quarter of 2003. Comscore’s research revealed that San Diego has become the first metropolitan market in which a majority of Internet users connected to the Web through a broadband connection rather than a narrowband service. Further, the analysis found that among the largest 50 markets, San Diego, Boston and New York led the nation in the usage of broadband connections.

At the national level, 36 percent of online users accessed the Web through a high-speed connection in the fourth quarter of 2003, up 2 points from 34 percent in the third quarter. Comcast holds the dominant position in the broadband market, providing access to approximately 19 percent of broadband users and 7 percent of all online users. SBC, the country’s largest DSL provider, accounts for 11 percent of consumer broadband connections and 6 percent of total ISP subscriptions. Not surprisingly, AOL continues to supply Internet access (narrowband and broadband) to more Americans than any other provider, with a 28 percent share.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) Market Share
U.S. Consumer ISP Subscriptions
Q4 2003
Source: Comscore Networks
    Market Share     Market Share
  Total U.S. 100%      
1 AOL (America Online) 28% 6 EarthLink 5%
2 Comcast 7% 7 Road Runner 4%
3 United Online 6% 8 BellSouth 3%
4 Microsoft Corp. 6% 9 Verizon 3%
5 SBC 6% 10 Cox Communications 2%
        All Other 30%

Note: Shares based on subscriber accounts through which direct Internet access is provided and which are actively used in analysis period. (i.e., does not include “Bring Your Own Access" subscriptions)

Broadband Poised to Eclipse Narrowband in Major Markets
Comscore research revealed that in many of the largest markets in the United States, consumer broadband usage is nearly on par with narrowband connections. In fact, in the fourth quarter, San Diego became the first major market in which broadband subscriptions outnumbered narrowband connections. Broadband usage is notably more common in larger markets, with approximately 40 percent of Internet users in the top 50 markets enjoying the benefits of a broadband connection, compared to a national penetration level of 36 percent.

A number of the nation’s major population centers, including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, rank among the top ten markets in terms of broadband penetration. By contrast, only three top-25 markets (St. Louis, Sacramento, Indianapolis) were ranked among the ten markets with the lowest broadband penetration.

“In the past several months, we’ve seen the U.S. online population reach 150 million people and household broadband penetration cross the 33-percent threshold,” said Russ Fradin, executive vice president of Comscore Networks. “Now we’ve recorded another milestone, with broadband accounting for more than half of a major U.S. market’s Internet connections.”

Connection Type by Market
Top 50 Local Markets
Q4 2003
Source: Comscore Networks
Top 10 Broadband Markets Top 10 Narrowband Markets
  Broadband Narrowband   Narrowband Broadband
San Diego 52% 48% Albuquerque-Santa Fe 76% 24%
Boston 50% 50% Grand Rapids 70% 30%
New York 49% 51% Harrisburg, PA 70% 30%
Providence, RI 47% 53% Indianapolis 70% 30%
Kansas City 46% 54% Sacramento-Stockton 69% 31%
Detroit 45% 55% Birmingham 68% 32%
Tampa-St. Pete 45% 55% Nashville 68% 32%
Orlando 44% 56% Louisville 67% 33%
San Fran-Oak-SJ 44% 56% Memphis 66% 34%
Los Angeles 44% 56% St. Louis 66% 34%

At a national level, 63 percent of broadband subscriptions are cable connections, while DSL subscriptions account for approximately 37 percent of the high-speed market. In nine of the ten markets with the highest broadband penetration, the majority of subscribers with a high-speed connection use cable modems. The exception to this pattern is San Francisco, where approximately 60 percent of broadband subscriptions are DSL accounts.

One in Four Internet Users Intends to Switch ISPs
A Comscore proprietary survey indicated that more than one in four Internet users intend to switch ISPs in the next six months. The majority of those reporting they planned to change ISPs said they would be selecting a broadband provider. By far the most common reason cited for switching providers was a desire for a faster connection. The second most popular reason for switching ISPs was price, which was likely a key contributor to the strong performance of United Online relative to other dial-up providers in the fourth quarter.

“Comscore’s survey research reveals a substantial number of people on the verge of switching their ISP, indicating that a significant number of consumers are benefiting from intense competition among incumbent phone and cable providers, as well as newer market entrants,” continued Mr. Fradin. “It’s clear that increased promotional activity and lower prices introduced by these competitors are fueling the momentum of broadband growth, particularly in larger markets.”

About Comscore Telecommunications Solutions
Comscore’s ISP tracking service is based on the Comscore Global Network – which continuously and confidentially captures the complete Internet activity of more than 1.5 million Internet users, including large samples of users from home, work, and university locations, with both dial-up and broadband connections of all types. Unlike other online tracking systems, which compile clickstream data from a small sample of specific ISPs or user PCs, Comscore’s monitoring technology operates on servers that are part of the link between the panelists and the Internet. This design uniquely enables Comscore to measure the number and type of ISP subscriptions, across a representative sample of Internet users.

For more information about Comscore Telecommunications Solutions, please e-mail

About Comscore Networks
Comscore Networks provides unparalleled insight into consumer behavior. This capability is based on a representative cross-section of more than 1.5 million global Internet users who have given Comscore explicit permission to confidentially capture their Web-wide browsing, buying and other transaction behavior, including offline purchasing. Through its patent-pending technology, Comscore measures what matters across the entire spectrum of surfing and buying behavior. This deep knowledge of customers and competitors helps clients design more powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. Comscore services are used by global leaders such as Microsoft, The Newspaper Association of America, Knight Ridder Digital, Best Buy, Verizon, Nestlé, Wells Fargo & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, and Orbitz. For more information, please visit

Andrew Lipsman
Comscore, Inc.
+1 312 775 6510