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Study: Europeans to flock to high-speed Net access

European consumers are expected to catch the broadband bug during the next five years as networks expand and prices fall, according to a new study.

    European consumers are expected to catch the broadband bug during the next five years as networks expand and prices fall, according to a new study.

    The report, released yesterday by market research firm Forrester Research, shows that 18 percent of European households--or 27 million people--will subscribe to a high-speed, or "broadband," Internet access service by 2005, up from less than 1 percent last year.

    Limited availability and high prices have hampered broadband growth overseas. For example, less than 8 percent of European households could receive high-speed Net service last year.

    However, deregulation and increasing competition will soon spark network expansion, lower prices, and more applications and Web content specifically designed for broadband connections, Forrester predicted.

    Denmark, Norway and Sweden are expected to lead the way, with about 36 percent to 40 percent of households subscribing to a high-speed Net service within five years.

    The study showed that digital subscriber lines (DSL) will top the market, with a 53 percent share. Cable modem services are expected to take 27 percent of the market, while other services, such as fixed wireless, satellites and fiber optics, will garner the remaining 20 percent.

    Forrester also believes that the largest telecommunications companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, will dominate the market over smaller cable operators, Internet service providers and "pure play" broadband companies because they have the scale to invest in their networks, attract content partners and bundle services.

    In the United States, broadband Net adoption has grown as telephone companies and other high-speed service providers trim prices and introduce expanded services. In addition to less expensive services, many broadband providers in the United States have stepped up their marketing efforts.

    Widespread adoption of high-speed Net services are still hampered, however, by the speed at which companies can install the technology, as well as by geographical limitations, such as DSL distance limits.