NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Internet Broadband Technology Spreading

February 11, 2002

The growth of Internet commerce in online medicine, telecommuting, distance learning and video entertainment on demand depends on broadband Internet access, says economist James K. Glassman. But more than two-thirds of Internet users still use dial-up modems with top speeds of around 56 kilobits per second compared to broadband speeds of about 400 kilobits.

During 2001, the number of American homes and offices that hooked up to the Internet using fast broadband technologies like cable and digital phone lines roughly doubled-from 6.5 million to 12.5 million.

  • Subscribers to digital subscriber line (or DSL) technology, which juices up copper phone lines to broadband speeds, increased 87 percent from 2.4 million lines in 2000 to 4.5 million in 2001.
  • Subscribers to similarly speedy cable-modem services, which got a head start on DSL and provide broadband over the same wires as cable TV, grew 88 percent.
  • And residential subscribers who access the Internet by speedy wireless or satellite increased from 120,000 to 500,000.

If this pace were to continue, says Glassman, every U.S. home would have broadband service in four years. Thus there is no need for government to subsidize broadband Internet access or reduce competition in the industry by allowing local telephone utilities to monopolize access to such services.

Source: James K. Glassman (American Enterprise Institute), "Network to Nowhere," Tech Central Station, February 7, 2002.


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