21 July 2003 Cedar Knolls, NJ Lightwave--Data has shown that growth in the broadband sector has slowed. The industry is moving out of the early-adopter stage--with consumers rushing to sign on for service--and is now entering the more difficult mass-market adoption phase. According to Probe Group, broadband providers must now find more compelling content and value propositions to persuade dial-up and non-Internet users to subscribe to broadband access.
"Broadband's power is not in its speed, it's in the flexibility of the applications," says Lynda Starr, Probe vice president. "Current applications are geared more toward communications rather than content." These would include e-mail and home networking. But Starr believes that while touted for its speed and always-on features, broadband "must be viewed as an enabling technology rather than an application unto itself."
While deployment has increased, broadband access in the U.S. is still below that of other countries. "Carriers are quick to blame regulatory and economic uncertainty for that situation rather than lack of compelling applications to spur the deployment of higher bandwidth, which in turn will spur more complex and bandwidth-intensive applications," said Starr.
In light of broadband's maturing market, carriers--especially telcos--are facing a two-front war. On one side they are upgrading their networks and choosing architectures (fiber-to-the-home, very high speed DSL), and on the other side they must find services and content that are appealing to their customers in order to meet revenue and margin goals.
In its latest U.S. Competitive Service Markets report, "Residential Broadband," Probe focuses on broadband drivers and barriers and specific broadband platforms. It also discusses the broadband-related activities of the major incumbent local-exchange carriers and cable operators.