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56-kbps modems top study

Jupiter Communciations says 56-kbps modems will be the leading higher-bandwidth technology for residential users in the next several years.

A new study from Jupiter Communciations says 56-kbps modems will be the leading higher-bandwidth technology for residential users in the next several years, not the much-touted cable or ADSL broadband technologies.

Jupiter analysts say midband products like the 56-kbps modems recently announced by U.S. Robotics will be the more common means of getting online.

The research firm estimates that 56-kbps modems will control 50 percent of the Internet access market by 1998 and 65 percent by the year 2000. Researchers also say consumers will continue to dial up for Net access at the expense of ISDN service offered by telephone companies.

"It is questionable how and if telcos and cable companies can deliver for technologies such as ADSL and cable modems to the home," said Wen Liao, senior Jupiter analyst for home technologies, in a prepared statement. "Although there's still hope for technologies such as ADSL and cable modems in the longer term, for now...the 56-kbps modem will have to do."

According to the study, 4.1 percent of the online households will still be puttering around on 14.4-kbps and slower modems in the year 2000, while 33.6- and 28.8-kbps modem users will cling to their aging products. Jupiter predicts that 7.5 percent of online users will have cable modem access, compared to 5.6 percent for ISDN users in the year 2000.

The reason for the slow acceptance of broadband technologies--access greater than 1.5 mbps--is not because consumers aren't ready. Jupiter says technical and deployment challenges, as well as the high cost of infrastructure upgrades, are slowing the transition for cable and telephone companies.

The 56-kbps modems, meanwhile, will require the support of Internet service providers because they will have to reconfigure their software to support the new standards. Jupiter says that online services such as America Online and the Microsoft Network will be able to differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantage from smaller ISPs that offer only dial-up access by quickly adopting support for the faster modems.