Guess what? The Internet isn't irrelevant after all. According to a study by ACNielsen and Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO), consumers are looking to spend $19.6 billion online over the holiday season. That's an impressive 23% improvement over last year's dot-com haul.

OK, so portal-heavy Yahoo! sponsored the study. You're flush with that jaded glow. It's like a diva hiring someone to tell her she looks pretty. Still, the findings make sense. Despite the soft economy, the trend of folks shifting their purchasing power online has continued. The transformation of dial-up users into faster cable and DSL connection subscribers has also helped speed up and enhance the online experience.

The growing broadband community is vital to the Web's prominence, and the Yahoo!/ACNielsen Internet Confidence Index study released yesterday confirms that those wired for speed have the biggest online spending plans. On average, the research findings point to the typical broadband user spending $287.10 over the holidays. That's considerably more than the $210.90 average it sees in the narrowband dial-up group.

It makes sense. The broadband public can log more online time, being exposed to more marketing opportunities. It's probably one of the many reasons AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL) tries to lure its dial-up subscribers to upgrade to high-speed AOL Broadband service. It must be nice, as e-commerce giants such as Amazon(Nasdaq: AMZN) and Dell(Nasdaq: DELL) bask in the glow of the trend that will send more visitors to their online doorstep.

The study also shows more educated users tend to spend more online. What? More beer-goggle flattery?

Yahoo! has a lot to gain from a strong holiday season. Since the ad market took a breather, the company has been building out its e-commerce revenue streams. It launched a new Tech Center just last week. So here's to a smart holiday shopping season. Yahoo!'s virtual doors will be open and ready for your business.