Future of Cable Modems and IDSL
From the point of view of a commercial (profitable, both for provider and user) service provision, xDSL can be considered an immature technology. xDSL has been proven an effective, reliable solution in many international trials. However, it is developing and progressing continually. This adds to the xDSL management complexities requiring the facilities for operators to download new algorithms on a regular basis.
xDSL standards are relatively new and are, therefore, prone to change on a regular basis. This involves regular, programmable equipment upgrades such as software download of new versions of xDSL transmission and application code from a central management station.
As with all new technologies, technical and cost issues do get resolved in subsequent generations. xDSL is no different. The market demand for high-speed, broadband communications will drive the development of the technology and will produce an economic, reliable solution for end users. For network operators, xDSL is the most cost-effective way of upgrading the copper infrastructure and competing against fiber and cable competitors. Another factor in determining market direction is the move for European PTTs (Post, Telegraph, and Telephones) from monopoly to deregulation and free competition. This will force network operators to unbundle their loops in a similar way to what has already happened in the United Kingdom and the United States. These new competitors will aggressively target end customers with offers of high-speed, broadband data communications, tempting them from the traditional service providers who may not be moving as quickly toward new service provision.
So, using the existing copper networks, xDSL will be made available, which will motivate PTTs to respond, eventually leading to a critical mass and explosion in xDSL deployments. While network operators, service providers, and vendors debate the standards, technology, and cost issues of deploying xDSL networks, customer demand is growing for cost-effective, high-speed, broadband networks that unleash new services and new business potential for them. Looking at the rapid development of Internet and intranet business and services over the last few years, one can expect resolutions to the main issues and mass xDSL deployment within the next three to five years.
On the other hand, cable modems will dominate the North American residential Internet access market by 2004, outpacing digital subscriber line (xDSL) lines six to one, according to a new market study conducted by Forward Concepts, Inc., a Tempe, Arizonabased consulting and market research firm. More than nine million cable modems are expected to be installed by then. By 2004, the base for worldwide residential broadband access is expected to be close to 40 million users, but that isn't enough to support everyone who wants a piece of the broadband market. The big losers in the push toward high-speed broadband data services will be the telephone enterprises if they don't depend less on lawyers and more on technology.
Cable modems will win out because unit prices will dip below $130. The average DSL modem pair will drop from about $2,200 to $90 in the same time frame, but questions still exist regarding whether DSL really works with existing telephone lines.
Some see the battle as being tipped in telephone enterprises' favor because customers will demand the dependable service they're used to having with their phones. Still, cable modem enterprises are, by default, winning the Internet access war among consumers because the phone enterprises have really not been as aggressive as they could be in offering high-speed broadband data services. However, it isn't too late for phone enterprises if they jump into the broadband market soon. Nevertheless, they will be shut out if they're not into volume shipments of xDSL by the end of the year 2001.
Thus, in the race to provide high-speed data access to Internet users, DSL will win over cable modems. That's because copper networks already are entrenched, and enterprises will want to leverage their existing investments in copper.
The tug-of-war between DSL and cable modems is a closely watched battle, and nobody knows for sure which side will prevail. The prediction of a DSL victory has less to do with the merits of DSL and more to do with the existing copper infrastructure.
Nobody has love or hate for DSL. They don't care, but it's got to be copper because you can't dig it up. What we have done with electronics for 30 years in communications is make copper more efficient. So, DSL is just an extension of a 30-year trend that won't stop.
It's too expensive to change the lines. As you get critical mass behind some of the vendors, DSL wins for sure.
DSL carries data at high speeds over standard copper telephone lines and allows users to surf the Net and talk on the phone at the same time, making it especially attractive for the home and small-office workplace.
Finally, cable modems are gaining popularity, and some heavyweight investors are betting on cable enterprises to provide expanded services in the future. Thus, confusion over standards, including ADSL, DSL Lite, and VDSL, poses an obstacle, but those issues should resolve themselves in 2001.