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The number of computers using mobile broadband technology to access the internet increased 154% in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared with the year-earlier period, according to a comScore study of US Internet usage via mobile broadband*.

The number of computers using mobile broadband increased from 854,000 in 4Q06 to nearly 2.17 million in 4Q07, comScore said.

“Though mobile broadband access is currently used by about 1% of the total US Internet population, it is poised for significant growth over the next few years,” said Serge Matta, SVP of comScore.

Among other findings:

  • At this early stage of mobile broadband, usage appears to be more a function of “need” than “want.” In particular, mobile broadband shows a significantly higher presence on work computers (59%) than home/personal computers (41%).

comscore-mobile-broadband-use-by-income-segment-q4-2006-vs-2007.jpg

  • Mobile broadband is also somewhat of a luxury, skewing strongly toward the highest-income households:
    • Those making at least $100,000 were 37% more likely than average to use mobile broadband.
    • Those with incomes below $25,000 were 41% less likely to do so.

In 2007, Verizon and Sprint accounted for the majority of the mobile broadband market. AT&T has announced it will increase its coverage in 2008.

“The mobile broadband market is ripening as we speak, and ISPs can benefit by increasing awareness that they have the services to meet their consumers’ demands,” added Matta. “Those ISPs that get ahead of the curve in understanding this emerging market will be best positioned to reap its rewards.”

*Mobile broadband uses cellular networks, and users pay subscriptions for access; the connection is made with a PC card or?built-in adapter, or connections can be tethered via a cell-phone or PDA. Mobile broadband access differs from Wi-Fi access, which is predicated on the availability of short-range “hot spots” and access fees often apply incrementally for each connection.

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