Aussie broadband getting off the ground

The Australian broadband market is "slowly getting off the ground" according to information technology advisory firm International Data Corp, with residential broadband penetration, pricing and competition levels showing improvement.IDC predicts that one of every four Internet users across Australia will have a broadband connection by the end of this year, with the ratio increasing to one broadband user for every dial-up subscriber by 2007.

The Australian broadband market is "slowly getting off the ground" according to information technology advisory firm International Data Corp, with residential broadband penetration, pricing and competition levels showing improvement.

IDC predicts that one of every four Internet users across Australia will have a broadband connection by the end of this year, with the ratio increasing to one broadband user for every dial-up subscriber by 2007.

IDC research director for telecommunications Landry Fevre said he estimates that that total number of broadband subscribers will reach 1.5 million by the end of 2004, with that number rising to nearly 4 million by 2008.

"The residential broadband market is expected to have the strongest growth in 2004, and will grow by more than three times by 2008. In terms of revenue, the Australian broadband market will reach almost AU$1.2 billion dollars by the end of the year," he said.

However, IDC said despite the latest developments Australia is unlikely to catch up in the global broadband stakes unless several changes to the industry are made.

According to IDC, Australia must "unlock broadband speed by removing DSL network speed cap", lower unbundled local loop prices to match other OECD countries, develop a strong nationwide initiatives to connect citizens and enterprises to broadband and establish a powerful regulating body to guard over its implementation.

The group added that Telstra must also sell Foxtel, the industry must "adopt a strong policy on wireless allocation especially in regional and rural areas" and also hybrid fibre coaxial infrastructure must be divested to accelerate nationwide broadband adoption.

"Some of these steps could be implemented very rapidly while others are long term, but all are key steps required to see Australia remain on par with other OECD countries," he said.

Fevre adds that the government needs to focus on broadband quality and usage.

"Australia should be at a stage where broadband availability is no longer an issue, especially considering there are still many under-served areas, equipment cost is decreasing and demand is proven," he said.