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Tepid interest in cable modems?

About two-thirds of online households are interested in faster connections, but enthusiasm for cable modems is less pronounced, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds of all households currently online want faster Internet access in the form of new technologies such as cable modems, a new study by the Yankee Group has found, but consumers are not as enthusiastic about the array of options for achieving the higher speeds.

According to a nationwide survey of 1,900 households, 66 percent of families that are already wired are at least somewhat interested in faster Internet access. When considering specific high-speed access options, 51.7 percent are interested in cable modems.

Bruce Leichtman, director of the Yankee Group's media and entertainment strategies group, noted that interest in ISDN has dropped steadily for the last several years. The study found that interest in high-speed access also dropped off when respondents were asked if they would pay the industry average of $40 per month for unlimited access.

"One thing that I found interesting," Leichtman said, "is that faster access and cable modems were described almost identically [to participants], but cable modems didn't perform as well. There's a general interest in higher speed, but when you put a name to it, there's a little bit of a fall-off."

The Yankee Group estimates that around 70,000 homes are currently cable-modem ready.

According to Leichtman, most of the respondents who favor faster access are telecommuters and "TAFs," or technologically advanced families, who tend to be early adopters of new technologies. Leichtman added that further research is necessary to figure out why most online families who favor fast access are less enthusiastic about cable modems.

"Is it some kind of aversion to the cable companies? Some of the people who are very interested may not subscribe to cable," he guessed.