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Broadband Net access nearly 8 million strong

A new study shows strong growth in the broadband industry, with nearly 8 million households subscribing to a high-speed Internet service in North America.

The broadband industry showed strong growth during the fourth quarter of 2000, with nearly 8 million households subscribing to a high-speed Internet service in North America, according to a new study.

Broadband market research firm Kinetic Strategies estimates that 7.8 million U.S. and Canadian households subscribe to a high-speed Net service--5.5 million of which use cable modems and 2.3 million using DSL (digital subscriber line), according to a report to be released Thursday.

The study shows that cable operators represent about 70 percent of the residential broadband Net market.

Cable modems and DSL are the two leading methods of high-speed Internet access, though wireless and satellite options also exist. The cable industry has maintained a lead since the sector's inception, but many analysts believe the Baby Bells have finally begun to market their broadband option, DSL, just as aggressively.

Broadband services for years were used largely by so-called early adopters, customers who were eager to trade off the headaches of a new technology in favor of being on the cutting edge. But as the high-speed Net market approaches 8 million customers, it appears to be taking hold among some mainstream consumers.

In 2000, North American cable companies added 3 million customers, while DSL providers including the Baby Bell local phone companies tallied 1.4 million new subscribers, according to Kinetic. The industry showed strong growth during the fourth quarter, with cable adding 1 million customers and DSL growing by 553,000 new customers.

By the end of 2000, 64 million households, or 59 percent of North American see special report: Digital Darwinism homes, were capable of receiving a broadband Net service, according to the study.

Motorola dominates the North American cable modem market, with the company's modems representing 38.1 percent of shipments last year. 3Com claimed 17.2 percent of the market, with Toshiba at 13.2 percent and Thomson Multimedia at 11.4 percent.