More people are joining the internet crowd and now nearly one in four netizens has a high-speed connection, according to survey data released by Dataquest, a division of research group Gartner.

For example, of the 65 million US households that now actively use the internet, about 24 percent of surfers are using high-speed services like cable modems and DSL.

Between the end of 2000 and this June, 8.4 million new internet users have gone online. That's a 15 percent increase in just over half a year, Gartner Dataquest reports.

The rise in broadband use occurred despite a slowdown in high-speed service expansion by regional telcos and setbacks suffered by high-speed providers. Most recently, [email protected] has reported financial troubles, although it says it has ensured continued customer service.

"There is no indication that this demand will abate over the next 12 months," says Amanda Sabia, industry analyst for Gartner Dataquest's worldwide Telecommunications and Networking group.

In contrast to past practice, a growing number of new broadband subscribers are also new internet users. They are skipping dial-up connections and going directly to high-speed service.

"We looked at anybody who was new to high speed in that last 6 months, and 16 percent say they went directly to high speed," says Peggy Schoener, a senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest's worldwide Telecommunications and Networking group. "They didn't have dial-up first and then grow their way into high speed."

The lion's share of today's fat pipe provision is ruled by cable modem, which accounts for about 55 percent of broadband customers, according to Dataquest. DSL (digital subscriber line) service pulls in about 26 percent of users and newer technologies such as fixed wireless and satellite services account for another 5 percent. The remainder of high-speed users is served by ISDN, an expensive predecessor to DSL technology that allows faster hook-ups via conventional telephone lines.