Study: ADSL, cable to lead Euro broadband techs

A new study into Internet access in Europe predicts that ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) and cable will become the leading broadband technologies as high-speed Internet connections become the norm, the European Commission said Tuesday.

At present in Europe narrowband dial-up connections account for 79 per cent of all Internet access, ISDN (integrated services digital network) 14 per cent, cable four per cent and ADSL only two per cent.

The study predicts that in 2010 dial-up access will have diminished to 12 per cent, while ADSL will hold 28 per cent and cable 20 per cent of all Internet access accounts. The remaining 40 percent will be split between fixed wireless and satellite, plus a growing number of fibre-optic and fibre-hybrid connections, the study says.

“The study clearly tells us that the future of the Internet is broadband,” said Erkki Liikanen, commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. “What Europe needs now is a forward-looking strategy to ensure that broadband Internet comes quickly and to all European citizens. It will be one of our top priorities in 2002.”

The study predicts that beyond 2010, ADSL and cable will gradually be replaced by fibre-optic cable and its variants.

“The transmission capacity of cable modem and ADSL will not exceed 2 Mbps at best for most users, which could prove insufficient for capacity-hungry multimedia applications and content,” the Commission’s study said.

“Fibre optic, on the other hand, provides almost unlimited bandwidth and is therefore a future-proof technology.”

By 2010, fibre optic and its variants could already account for about 30 per cent of all Internet connections to EU homes/SME (small to medium enterprises), the study predicts.

But there are uncertainties regarding the pace of the rollout of fibre networks due to their high cost, it says.

“So far, there is no viable business model for fibre optic as customers are unlikely to buy extra velocity just for the sake of it. Ultimately, the development of fibre access will be driven by user demand for Internet applications and contents that exceed the capacity of other Internet access technologies.”