DSL providers take on cable operators' lead

* Cable remains the broadband technology of choice in the U.S.

Cable remains the broadband technology of choice in the U.S., but DSL service providers are doing a better job of attracting broadband subscribers, according to a new report released by the U.S. Telecom Association.

The report - entitled "Broadband Facts 2004: The Industry by the Numbers" - has more than 50 pages of statistics and projections on the use of high-speed Internet services here and abroad. In the last few issues of the ISP News Report, I have highlighted some of the report's most interesting data.

A study by Parks Associates that is included in the USTA report finds that 64% of U.S. households that subscribe to broadband Internet service do so through their cable operators while 26% subscribe to DSL service. Only 1% of broadband subscribers use wireless, and another 1% use satellite services. The rest use other services.

The USTA report includes data from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) that shows new DSL subscriptions are on the rise. Cable ISPs picked up 4.49 million net new subscribers in 2003, while DSL ISPs picked up 2.94 million net new subscribers. The net new subscribers for cable increased by 6% over 2002, while DSL increased by 33%, LRG found.

Of the net new broadband subscribers, DSL's share increased from 35% in 2002 to 40% in 2003. In the fourth quarter of 2003, DSL had 45% of the net new subscribers, LRG says.

LRG found that cable and DSL providers had their best years ever in 2003.

Whether people buy broadband service from a DSL or cable operator, they use the high-speed Internet access for the same purposes.  Data from Parks Associates shows that nearly 30% of all broadband households support a home network so they can share Internet access and peripherals among multiple PCs. Other popular applications are networked digital video, home automation control, shared music and online gaming.

Parks Associates cautioned, however, that PC adoption among U.S. households is peaking. "At the end of 2003, 65% of all U.S. households owned a personal computer," the study states. "At year-end 2007, 75% of U.S. households will own a personal computer, a point beyond which PC penetration will grow only slowly unless, that is, non-PC households can be enticed by new non-PC/PCs."

To purchase USTA's Broadband Facts report, visit http://www.telecom-bookstore.com/

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