Aussie broadband users shun ADSL for cable

Australian broadband users will continue to opt for cable connections over ADSL, according to a survey released on Monday.

Despite more ISPs offering ADSL broadband than cable, RedSheriff's 2003 Australian Internet Report found 16 per cent of home Internet users had cable compared to 6 per cent with ADSL.

The survey also found cable Internet will grow more quickly than ADSL in the next 12 months, as 10 per cent of Internet users will subscribe to a cable service compared to 7 per cent to ADSL.

The broadband survey was based on phone interviews with 396 Australians aged 16 and over who use the Internet and have a home connection.

According to independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, cable broadband's residential positioning and lower price were the reasons for its survey results.

"There's only one [differentiating] reason why people buy broadband, and that's price," said Budde.

"The limits of cable infrastructure, though, mean I don't think it will stay ahead [of ADSL]," he said.

As soon as Telstra lowered the costs of access to its wider-reaching phone network, the price of ADSL would come down, and the technology would gain more residential users, he said.

Budde said only three of the 300 broadband ISPs in Australia offered cable: Telstra, Optus, and a small regional Victorian ISP.

This lack of providers, and that Optus was not competing against Telstra well enough to gain more cable subscribers, also meant cable would not stay ahead of ADSL, said Budde.

Dial-up Holds Firm

Accordingly, the survey found only 20 per cent of respondents had broadband, compared to 86 per cent using dial-up. RedSheriff research director James Burge said while the figures didn't appear to add up, this was due to some respondents’ lack of knowledge of broadband.

"People could say they had more than one [connection type]. So they may have been unsure which connection they had," he said.

Burge also said some users may have selected two choices because they were moving between services.

The survey was not all good news for broadband growth. Twelve per cent of respondents with home Internet connections said they will move to broadband within 12 months, but two-thirds of this figure were classified as experienced users.

A second survey of respondents without home Internet connections (104) found they were more partial to dial-up. Dial-up connections were intended to be acquired by 23 per cent, compared to 13 per cent for broadband.

"The results are consistent with the observation... that current take-up of Internet in the home is not being driven by broadband," the report said.

"Those homes which have been connected for under six months were just as likely as those which have been connected for longer to have broadband, either cable or ADSL. The exception to this is homes which have been connected to the Internet for five or more years.

"Take-up of broadband will grow slowly, due to the higher initial investment compared with a standard dial-up connection, [and] users’ needs for broadband."

Broadband users spend an average of 9.3 hours a week online, compared to dial-up users' 7.2 hours.

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Steven Deare

PC World
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