Broadband alive and well, firm says

Increasing user demand for faster connections to the Web has led to “substantial” broadband subscriber growth over the past year, according to market research firm In-Stat/MDR.

At the beginning of 2002, the number of worldwide broadband subscribers passed the 30 million mark, and by year-end worldwide subscriber totals are forecasted to surpass 46 million total subscribers, the research firm claims. DSL has become the premier broadband access technology in the international market, while cable modem service continues to do well in the U.S., the firm states.

In late 2001, the number of worldwide DSL subscribers surpassed 17 million, enabling DSL service to replace cable modem service as the most widely-used broadband access technology, In-Stat/MDR says. A sharp rise in the number of DSL subscribers in the in the Asia-Pacific region sparked worldwide DSL growth, according to the firm.

In the U.S., cable modem subscribers continue to outnumber DSL subscribers by a wide margin. At the beginning of 2002, there were 7.12 million U.S. cable modem subscribers and only 4.6 million DSL subscribers, according to In-Stat/MDR.

The residential market will continue to be hotly contested between the broadband access technologies due to the low penetration and adoption rates expected for cable modems in the business sector, according to In-Stat/MDR. In the U.S., cable operators have rapidly made cable modem service available to the majority of their residential customers while almost ignoring the business community, the firm states.

Meanwhile, the availability of broadband access remains the single greatest challenge to long-term broadband growth, since the majority of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure cannot yet support broadband access technologies, the firm states.

Other broadband access technologies, like satellite broadband, fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless service, are merely bit players in the overall broadband access market, according to In-Stat/MDR. The three services account for only 5 percent of current worldwide broadband subscribers, the firm states.