DSL Broadens Its Reach

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (04/05/2000) - Hungry for a broadband Internet connection at home? Today there's a 50 percent chance you could get a Digital Subscriber Line broadband connection to your home in the United States.

Those are much better odds than just a year ago, and that percentage will continue to increase as providers upgrade their equipment and roll service into more areas, say DSL supporters.

DSL is king here this week at DSLcon, where industry hardware and service providers gather to talk shop while plotting their continued attack on the current home broadband leader: cable. DSL is making significant gains against the competition, according to Robin MacGillivray, vice president of Pacific Bell Corp.'s business solutions group and Tuesday's keynote speaker.

In 1999 it looked as if DSL had lost the battle for home broadband dominance before it began, she says. For every DSL subscriber there were ten cable subscribers. But over the course of the year more DSL providers charged into the fray, and in less than 12 months they've begun to shift the advantage, she says.

The change has much to do with improved customer awareness about DSL, as well as increased coverage. Expect DSL availability to continue to climb in coming months, says Dave Burstein, editor of the trade publication DSL Prime. He estimates more than 70 percent of homes in the United States will be able to be serviced by DSL by the end of this year.

Studies by DSL Prime estimate there are about 500,000 subscribers to DSL in the United States now, and expect that number will reach about 3 million by the end of the year.

By way of comparison, Kinetic Strategies estimates there are currently more than 1.5 million cable modem users in the United States. By the end of 2003, that number should reach 15.9 million in North America, the firm expects.

Kinetic Strategies estimates about 43 million homes in the United States and Canada currently have access to cable modem service.

Broadband, Please

Consumers are clamoring for broadband access, says Pacific Bell's MacGillivray.

She points to a recent survey from the Yankee Group that shows two-thirds of PC-owning households want broadband access.

The broadband market is expected to grow by leaps and bounds, with revenues reaching 33 billion by the year 2002, MacGillivray says. In the next four years, there will be more than 30 million broadband subscribers in North America, she estimates.

And it's not just home users who are jazzed about broadband; small businesses want it too, she says. Another survey shows that more than half of all small businesses expect to connect to the Internet via DSL by the year 2001.

MacGillivray closed her keynote with a quote from a BusinessWeek article on the growing importance of a high-speed connection: "Broadband access to the Internet will become as important as electricity was at the turn of the century." It's certainly the goal of attendees of DSLCon.

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