Australia slow and steady in the broadband race: IDC

Australia will remain the "broadband backwater" when compared to take-up in other developing countries, according to IDC's newest forecast report on the Australian broadband market 2003-2008. IDC predicts broadband in Australia will reach a maximum penetration of 13 percent in the next four years, equating to around 2.

Australia will remain the "broadband backwater" when compared to take-up in other developing countries, according to IDC's newest forecast report on the Australian broadband market 2003-2008.

IDC predicts broadband in Australia will reach a maximum penetration of 13 percent in the next four years, equating to around 2.8 million broadband subscribers in 2008, up from 727,440 in 2003.

IDC research director for telecommunications, Landry Fevre, says the strongest growth in broadband over the next year will come from the residential market, where a three-fold increase is predicted by 2008.

"The bulk of broadband revenue will be coming from residential broadband subscribers -- about twice the corporate market -- by 2008," said Fevre.

The report stated the majority of Australian subscribers operate on a download speed of 256 or 512Kbps, which, IDC says, "significantly limits the delivery of content and hinders potential initiatives for high-content value proposition such as TVoVDSL and VoIP services".

Fevre says the international broadband market has exhibited "attractive triple-play bundles" of high-bandwidth services offering voice, broadband and TV services through the same network.

"For example, France's second-largest broadband service providers, Iliad, offers free national phone calls, 2Mpbs ADSL and 100+ TV channels for about a third of the price for what you would get in Australia," said Fevre. "There is still a long way to go for Australian consumers to get a decent deal."

According to Fevre, a major inhibitor to broadband penetration in Australia could be the lack of competition amongst providers.

"In the countries with high broadband penetration, none of the cable companies have an investment in the xDSL service providers, compared to Australia where Telstra and Optus have investments in both xDSL as well as cable markets," said Fevre.

Fevre predicts that wireless broadband services will remain a steadfast competitor in broadband delivery market, stating it should "remain on the watch-list of any broadband service providers".

However, Fevre says the more dangerous trend for the major telcos is the eventual adoption of VoIP.

"The real threat for Telstra and Optus will occur when voice services will be offered over these services, and IDC predicts this will happen by the end of 2004", said Fevre.

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