Broadband has changed the way people use the Internet, argues the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The following is an excerpt from the conclusion to its report, The Broadband Difference. The full report is available at http://www.pewinternet.org. Broadband Internet users clearly drive in both directions on the information superhighway, generating content and uploading information to the Web in addition to being active downloaders and information seekers. Whether this pattern will hold true as home broadband connections diffuse more widely is difficult to predict. In a longitudinal study last year, we found that Internet usage patterns of late adopters largely mirror those of early adopters. That is, with the passage of time, users who are new to the Internet begin to do things online, such as transactions, which their veteran counterparts have been doing for some time. Pew survey shows broadband changing Internet habitsThe Pew Internet & American Life Project’s The Broadband Difference, How online Americans’ behavior changes with high-speed Internet connections at home, released June 25, shows that users with high-speed access tend to download more multimedia content, more often. The in-depth survey also demonstrates that high-speed users tend to create more content, such as web sites, than dial-up users; use their always-on connections to search for information; and accomplish a greater variety of tasks (email, queries, multimedia, games etc.) than dial-up users. The fascinating glimpse into the behaviour of high-speed users is at http://www.pewinternet.org.Will broadband users of the future be as active as today’s in generating content and uploading data to the Web? It may be that early broadband adopters have unique characteristics, perhaps having to do with their jobs, education, and income, which explain their usage patterns. Not all occupations, for example, lend themselves to telecommuting and we have seen that telecommuters are ardent broadband users. This could well be the case, although, if the "new economy" is indeed new and enduring, one would expect in the future that a wider range of jobs will be intensive in the management and generation of information. Such jobs would likely benefit from high-speed two-way connections in the home. With life-long learning and continuous training of growing importance to all segments of the workforce, and with this report showing a sharp increase in these activities for broadband users, one would expect many kinds of Internet users to benefit from fast home connections. Finally, one would expect that families of any kind would value sharing photos, video, or other memorabilia online via fast Internet connections. A clear policy implication of the bi-directional data flow generated by broadband users has to do with the "open access" debate. …As Stanford law professor Larry Lessig has documented in The Future of Ideas, there are reasons to believe that the authority to control the flow of content may result in actual restrictions on content availability. Some companies are developing technologies to allow providers to develop "walled gardens" online that give preference to content specified by a service provider. And some cable networks, which presently are legally able to restrict content flows, have imposed restrictions on subscribers. Some cable broadband providers prohibit customers from operating a Web site. In addition, some providers engage in "filtering" by which packets of information are examined by the provider and certain packets (e.g., those associated with file sharing) are discarded. Other restrictions include prohibiting home networks (something 55% of broadband users with multiple computers have) and limiting the number of minutes that users can stream video over their high-speed connection.Early adopters of broadband to the home are unmistakably producers and users of all varieties of online information and applications. This is likely to shape the future development of the Internet, as consumers demand upload speeds equal to download speeds and continue to value the Internet’s extensive connectivity of information and people. The lack of any "killer app" among early users of broadband shows that they are anxious to use all facets of the Internet, using their always-on connections to transition seamlessly between checking on a work project, seeing what time the movie is playing, updating the family Web page, all the while listening to a favorite radio station a thousand miles away. Whatever the precise usage patterns of future broadbanders, it seems likely that they too will value the same things current high-speed users do — greater and easier access to information, new capacities to generate it, and more control over how the online world can help in their day-to-day lives.