Survey Sees Bandwidth Crunch in 1999

Bandwidth will be a major issue facing cable, computer and telephone companies next year, according to a survey released yesterday by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

With Internet traffic doubling every 100 days, the volume of data traffic will exceed voice within two years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, "Technology Forecast: 1999." Transmitting digital data will blur the lines between voice, fax, data and video transmissions, and between fixed and mobile services, the survey said.

Several issues surround bandwidth, the research firm said: How consumers will get it, how businesses will use it and how it will come into play with Internet backbones, according to Michael Katz, an analyst at the New York firm. "Progress has been made in all of these areas because of electronic business. (Companies) want to go online" to give consumers a "compelling shopping experience," he said. That experience won't be compelling if consumers use a 28.8K bits per second modem, he added.

The key to all of these changes will come from competition in the local loop area, Katz said. Phone companies are aggressively pushing Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), and cable companies are pushing better cable modems, he said.

The telecommunications market will continue to see consolidations, agreements and alliances, Katz said. Four or five global supercarriers will be created by 2002, out of 4,000 national and regional players, the study said. "This will lead to more choices, lower prices and better service," Katz said.

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