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SME study: P.R. Internet usage levels reach 50%

The SME commissioned the study that polled local Internet users last month.

About half of Puerto Rico’s population — split almost evenly between men and women between 25 and 39 years old — uses the Internet to work or socialize, according to the 2012 edition of the Sales & Marketing Executives’ “Digital & Mobile Behavioral Study.”

Local usage levels have been consistently rising since 2005, when they were pegged at 33 percent, the study showed, noting the goal is to reach 60 percent by 2015.

Connection speeds are also on the rise, as more than 1.5 million people currently surf the web at broadband rates, according to the study that will be unveiled publicly this morning, two days after the government outlined its strategy to boost local broadband penetration and speeds in coming years.

The SME study, conducted by local research firm Estudios Técnicos, noted that of the nearly 1.6 million users who are connected to the web, 50.6 percent are men, while 49.6 percent are women. More than half, or 55.6 percent of them are single who have at least a high school diploma and earn a salary of between $10,000 and $14,999.

Connecting at home, work
Most connections to the Internet, or 87.8 percent, are done from the home, while 23.3 percent of Internet users surf at work.

More than half, or 57 percent, of people surveyed confirmed that they use their smartphones to access the web, spending an average of 3.5 hours a week online. Texting, surfing the web and taking pictures are the three most popular uses given to smartphones, the study showed.

On the other hand, the research also found that 30 percent of those who are currently disconnected from the web used it at some point, but walked away either for economic (38 percent) or technological (27 percent) reasons.

Top 10 visited sites; online shopping trends
The list of websites favored by Puerto Rican web surfers include the most popular around the world, headed by Facebook, Google.com, and Youtube.com. Depending on the device used to access the web, other favored sites include Yahoo.com, Endi.com, Gmail.com, Hotmail.com, Twitter.com, Wikipedia.com and Clasificadosonline.com.

Perhaps unsurprisingly is the fact that 1.4 million people, or 88 percent of local residents, use social media websites, with an overwhelming majority (83.4 percent) signing in to Facebook. YouTube came in second at 32.2 percent, while Google+ edged out Twitter, with 21.7 percent and 19.3 percent, of respective usage.

Meanwhile, the SME study revealed people connected to the web are seemingly developing a taste and trust in online shopping, as 30.6 percent of those surveyed said they did some virtual shopping in 2012. That average is up from last year’s 24 percent total.

On average, local consumers spent about $205 on their online purchases this year.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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