Despite ATM and cable modems, narrowband access has at least a decade of growth left in it. Virginia hi-tech research company CIR predicts that, in 2006, narrowband access revenues will still be worth $80 billion - up from $68.2 billion now - because it will still be cost effective for many applications.
Broadband revenues will only overtake narrowband in in 2004, although their growth will be rapid, almost trebling from $25.6 billion to $95.7 billion in 1996-2006. However, there will still be a place for narrowband.
Lawrence Gasman, the author of the report, ?Who needs broadband access??, commented: ?We believe that high speed network access is the wave of the future, but don?t expect the narrowband infrastructure to go away any time soon.? CIR sees particular growth in narrowband business video, with revenues growing from $1.4 billion worldwide today to $9.4 billion in 2006, and in narrowband acces to the Internet and online services, with a leap from $2.7 billion to $11.8 billion across the decade.
The main access technologies will remain ISDN, X.25, frame relay and POTS, and these will appeal for their cost-effectiveness in many application areas where broadband is not essential - particularly in the home market.
Over the decade, Gasman believes the most promising areas for narrowband access will be image transfer, Internet access, online consumer services, videoconferencing, telecommuting, EDI and distance learning. Virtual private networks and Lan internetworking will still be significant and the continuing need for SNA networking to the mainframe is a potential cash cow for suppliers.
For broadband, CIR predicts that major opportunities will be in video on demand, Internet access, online consumer services and distance learning - many of the same categories as narrowband, but among larger and less cost-sensitive users. Other growth areas will be interactive television, internetworking and there will be niche opportunities in markets such as multimedia kiosks and executive videoconferencing. CIR sees little call for broadband in educational applications.
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