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At Last, the Web Hits 100 MPH

The spread of broadband may finally allow the Net to reach its full commercial potential -- and change the way people live

Jon Nordmark has been through the e-tail bust, so the CEO of eBags Inc. has learned that the next cool thing is rarely what it seems. Yet he increasingly thinks broadband will be boffo. The evidence: In tests, customers who watch videos about the luggage he sells are 19% more likely to buy than customers who just look at pictures on his site. "We don't go hog-wild on any new idea until we have proven its effectiveness," Nordmark says. "Now we have."

Experiments like the one on eBags explain why experts are increasingly optimistic that high-speed Internet access really, finally, will help deliver the full promise of the Web. A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project says 31% of U.S. Web households now reach the Net via a broadband connection, up 50% in a year. And by the end of this year, at least 7 million, or 39% more, will switch -- a number that could double if more companies follow Verizon Communications Inc.'s lead and slash broadband fees to $35 a month, a 30% drop, says analyst Anthony Noto of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

News source: BusinessWeek Online

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