Study: DSL stalks cable as broadband figures rise

The number of broadband subscribers will rise 53 percent worldwide this year to 46 million from the 30 million there were at the beginning of 2002, according to a report released Monday by In-Stat/MDR.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is the favorite broadband technology in use worldwide, with 17 million subscribers of the total 30 million at the beginning of the year. In the U.S., cable modem access was the most popular broadband technology, with 7.12 million subscribers compared to DSL's 4.6 million, In-Stat/MDR said.

The U.S. cable industry's Triple Play bundled service package of voice, video, and high-speed Internet access has proved a combination which DSL has found hard to match, In-Stat/MDR said.

The gains made by DSL have largely happened in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan and especially South Korea have adopted broadband enthusiastically. South Korea has the world's highest broadband penetration rate, driven by the country's online gaming habit. Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) estimates that the country's 48 million people will include 12 million broadband Internet subscribers by the end of this year, the majority of them being DSL subscribers.

Cable and DSL between them account for 95 percent of broadband access worldwide, with the rest accounted for by satellite broadband, fiber-to-the-home, and fixed wireless service. Fixed wireless, although a bit player at present, has a promising future with the emergence of the 802.11 standard. Fixed wireless subscribers will triple worldwide in 2002, In-Stat/MDR said.

The main hindrance to broadband growth worldwide is the poor telecommunication infrastructure in many areas which cannot yet support broadband access technologies, according to the report.

In-Stat/MDR, formerly MicroDesign Resources, is a unit of Reed Business Information, in New York, a Reed Elsevier PLC company.

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