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Global broadband deployment growing as DSL spreads

Posted: 10 Oct 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:federal communications commission? broadband access? telecommunications?

Cable companies rather than incumbent telecommunications carriers have led the way in introducing broadband access in the industrialized world, but the telecom industry is starting to catch up, a new government survey has found.

In a report released by the Federal Communications Commission, the agency's policy shop said cable operators have aggressively deployed broadband networks in South Korea, Canada, Japan, Belgium and Sweden.

Once they began offering DSL services, however, telecom carriers have become "formidable competitors" in the global broadband market, the report found. In 1999, 84 percent of broadband subscribers used cable modem with the remainder using DSL. By 2002, DSL accounted for 54 percent of broadband subscribers in the industrialized world while cable accounted for 41 percent and other platforms 3 percent.

The study found that Sweden is the only country surveyed that offered a third alternative to broadband access: fiber networks within buildings.

South Korea leads the world in broadband deployment on a per- capita basis with about 21.4 million subscribers, the FCC found. Seoul has pursued an aggressive policy of promoting broadband access. U.S. policy makers are divided on whether the South Korean approach would work in the United States.

One reason for rapid growth in South Korea is that competitors have access to cable networks. A federal court ruled earlier this week that U.S. cable networks must be opened to competitors just as telecom networks are. The ruling is expected to be appealed.

Canada was second on the FCC list, followed by Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, the United States, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, and England.

The totals are based on a formula that counted the number of broadband subscribers per 100 people.

As of December 2002, the number of subscribers in the 30 countries surveyed totaled 55 million. The global total was 62 million at the end of 2002.

The FCC survey covered the 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The survey did not include fast-growing markets such as China and India.

The report's conclusions will be incorporated into an FCC proceeding on how best to encourage U.S. broadband deployment.

- George Leopold

EE Times

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