MANHASSET Broadband subscribersespecially residential userslooking for the highest available speeds have made cable a popular access choice. But, according to analysts from different firms, cable is going to experience an uptick in competition.
Worldwide, the base of cable modem subscribers is projected to more than double between last year and 2008, going from 32.8 million to 69.4 million, according to a study just released by IDC.
In the U.S., cable remains the top choice for broadband -- with about 50 percent more subscribers than DSL. By far, the majority of U.S. cable customers are residential users, although IDC's projections also call for about 2.5 million business cable modem subscribers by 2008.
But around the world, DSL has become the top choice. And by the end of the decade, wireless broadband will join DSL and cable as a major player in the market-share battle, according to new study by Visant Strategies. By 2009, Visant analysts project that wireless broadband will be growing faster than wire-line due to acceptance of technologies such as 802.16/WiMAX. Sales of WiMAX equipment will hit $2.2 billion in five years, Visant believes.
Synergy between fixed wireless systems and mobile IP-based solutions will act as a catalyst for broadband wireless access and 802.16 growth.
"Mobile carriers are poised to move to IP-based systems in the short-term and are looking at many of the broadband wireless access solutions," said the study's author, Andy Fuertes.
Tower acquisition and construction will be one brake on wireless growth, the study acknowledges. However, mesh technologies could emerge as a way to get around tower and antenna constraints.
Satellite is another way to get around tower constraints. Satellite's intention to play in the broadband market became more clear with the launch earlier this month of WildBlue Communications' first satellite-based equipment for wireless high-speed Internet. With its gear in orbit, Denver-based Wildblue will be offering wireless throughout the continental U.S. starting next year.
The new Ka-band "spot beam" technology will allow multiple re-use of the same frequency, providing higher capacity at lower costs than traditional Ku-band satellites, according to WildBlue.
Other satellite communications firms are addressing the vibrant broadband market. Hughes Network Systems has been offering broadband via satellite for several years. And in March, the firm introduced a satellite-enable WiFi solution for retailers and others setting up "hot spots."