Global shipments of digital subscriber line (DSL) equipment will catapult to a whacking 9.8 million units in 2003 from only 350,000 last year as a result of user demand for faster Internet access.
Kathie Hackler, an analyst at Dataquest, said: "DSL technologies have barely started to tap the total available market for broadband Internet access."
She believes that the two main factors driving market growth are demand for access to the Internet and intranets, and an increasing tendency to use the Web not only for email, but also for more bandwidth intensive tasks such as accessing research and news and information services.
Another contributing factor is that telecoms operators are attempting to introduce DSL to protect themselves from the impact of cable modems, which are being sold by cable operators. Shipments of cable modems now out number DSL, with 2.4 cable modems shipped for every DSL customer premise equipment device in 1998.
"In this early stage of the market, DSL is mainly being deployed as a business tool for telecommuters and Soho (small office home office) users, while cable modems have been more targeted at consumer applications. With the market momentum that both technologies are gaining, it appears, for at least the next five years, that both will be market winners," Hackler said.
Cable modems were unsuitable for business users, she explained, because operators created regional public local area networks (Lans), which could present security problems and performance issues for those companies attached to the backbone.
But there were already areas in the US where even consumers complained about having to compete for lines when demand was high.
Hackler added that although cable operators were attempting to remedy the situation by caching popular sites and building smaller network nodes, DSL modems could prove popular with consumers - particularly when suppliers began developing to the G.lite standard. This would not require operators to install extra equipment in users' homes.
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