The future’s bright for Aussie broadband

The uptake of broadband has been sluggish by both Australian residential and business customers but its future is bright, with broadband customers expected to hit the four million mark by 2005, according to research company IDC.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)-- The uptake of broadband has been sluggish by both Australian residential and business customers but its future is bright, with broadband customers expected to hit the four million mark by 2005, according to research company IDC.

Last year there were 68,000 broadband users in Australia--the biggest majority being cable modem subscribers--and by the end of 2001 broadband customers are expected to reach 346,000, IDC says.

111,000 of these will be cable modem users compared with 235,000 DSL customers.

”Broadband uptake is growing very fast,” IDC market analyst of communications research, Emilia Wasiak, told ZDNet. ”We expect double that growth by 2005.”

By 2005, IDC estimates that there will be 3.6 million DSL subscribers and 800,000 cable modem users.

This will put narrowband subscribers--of which there are currently three million Australia-wide and four million anticipated by 2005, almost neck and neck with broadband users.

”Australia can expect to see huge growth in broadband from now to 2005, when broadband and narrowband subscribers will equal each other,” Wasiak said.

DSL services are surpassing those of cable modem in terms of subscriber uptake because of more competition in the DSL arena, according to Wasiak. With only two providers of cable modem in Australia--Telstra and Optus--“it’s difficult to have price wars and they’re not really motivated to provide competitive services,” she said.

And whilst Telstra and Optus were once the only players in the DSL field, now there are dozens of operators all fighting to provide competitive services, including fixed wireless and metro optical--another broadband technology that runs at 100 to 1000 megabytes a second, according to Wasiak.

However, narrowband will remain strong until broadband prices fall and content is made more enticing, she said. “What’s available at the minute is not going to make huge numbers of people turn to broadband.”

”Local content is still weak…and international content is expensive, with the cost being passed on to the end user.”

Wasiak says that content providers will need to enter into non-exclusive partnerships to extend their reach on the market.

”However, I think what will really drive the broadband market is applications,” particularly audio and video streaming followed closely by video on demand and online gaming, Wasiak said.

“For broadband to succeed people need to start using applications and be prepared to pay for them.”

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