Worldwide Future of DSL Looks Bright

DSL will be available to at least 70 percent of US homes by 2004, and will also experience dramatic growth outside the US, according to a pair of studies that examine the future of the broadband technology.

The report “DSL: New Opportunities and Winning Strategies” by The Pelorus Group found that ISDN will maintain its lead for high-speed data access worldwide over the next five years, and cable modems will maintain their popularity, but DSL will make dramatic inroads in the broadband market.

“Alternative technologies, in particular cable modems and fixed wireless, face lengthy, expensive network buildouts before they will provide the kind of wide-scale access to compare with the copper loop plant of incumbent telephone companies,” said Pelorus Group President Al Fross. “Despite some very real technical problems, much of the copper twisted pair installed base is currently able to support DSL, and upgrading existing wireline networks with DSL technology is a cost-effective way for providers to respond to high-speed data services demand.”

According to the Pelorus report, several of the largest US markets are expected to have a half dozen or more DSL competitors by the end of 2000. Worldwide, Pelorus expects the xDSL installed base to approach 1.3 million by year’s end. Of the worldwide total, HDSL represents the bulk (53 percent), followed by ADSL at 43 percent. Equipment revenues will surpass $390 million by the end of 1999, surging to $1.2 billion by 2004, The Pelorus Group found.

Another report on DSL, this one by The Strategis Group, found that DSL will challenge cable modems for the residential high-speed Internet access market outside the US.

The report “International High-Speed Access: The Residential Marketplace 1999” found that less than 1 percent of the world’s households use broadband Internet access. Combined DSL and cable modem penetration of total households will reach 10-30 percent by 2003 in several markets, including Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, and the US.


Residential Cable Modem
and DSL Subscribers in 2003

(thousands)
Canada Germany Japan
DSL 1,808 1,428 1,095
Cable modems 1,800 1,200 1,500
Source: The Strategis Group

“We are beginning to see wide-scale DSL and cable modem deployments in major metropolitan areas in several countries,” said Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, senior consultant at The Strategis Group. “While cable modem technology is currently in the lead, we see DSL beginning to catch up.”

Cable modems have that lead because they enjoy a first-to-market advantage, and are more popular than DSL in almost every country.

According to The Strategis Group, DSL will outpace cable modems by 2003 or earlier in several markets, including:

  • Germany and Singapore, where DSL has an early lead over cable modems
  • France and the UK, which have low cable television penetration and plan for extensive DSL deployment
  • Canada, which has extensive deployments of relatively low cost, splitterless DSL services targeted at consumers.

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