Five years ago: 56Kbps modems tipped to dominate Net

The rising tide of hype for 56Kbps modems was given some authority yesterday when a respected market analyst said the devices would be the "only viable option" for home users accessing the Internet in the near term.

US-based Internet market watcher Jupiter Communications said broadband solutions such as ISDN, ADSL and cable modems, won't make significant inroads until the next decade.

Jupiter predicts 56Kbps modems will have 50 per cent of the consumer Internet access market by 1998, and 65 per cent by the year 2000. "It is questionable how and if [telecommunications] and cable companies can deliver on their promise of broadband to the home... for now improvements in dial-up, in the form of the 56Kbps modem, will have to do - although this is still not the fat pipe of our dreams."

ISDN will have less than six per cent of the market and cable modems only 7.5 per cent by the end of the decade, according to the study. "The first large-scale cable modem trials offer hope for a bandwidth-rich future, but the maze of competing proprietary standards, inadequate infrastructure, and a simple lack of enough bodies and trucks to cover large areas, will limit the technology's middle-term future," the report says.

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