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Study: Broadband market to triple by 2008

DSL will drive worldwide growth, though picture looks slightly different in U.S. than in other parts of the globe.

The worldwide base for broadband technology is expected to reach 325 million subscribers by 2008, up from about 100 million at the end of last year, according to new research from the Yankee Group.

Of this 325 million, about 200 million subscribers will be using DSL (digital subscriber line) service, up significantly from the 85 million people expected to be using that technology by the end of 2004, the study found.

DSL growth will largely be fueled by the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Yankee Group. DSL is expected to add between 25 million and 30 million subscribers per year, while rival cable modem technology will account for around 8 million new subscribers annually.

The competition between cable and DSL is getting fiercer as the market grows. The Yankee Group expects steeper year-over-year growth for satellite, broadband wireless and other technologies as well.

In North America, though, cable service will maintain its lead, growing from 34 million at the end of last year to about 75 million in 2008. Satellite is expected to experience strong growth, also. By 2008, it's expected to have more than 12 million subscribers, or 4 percent of the market.

Meanwhile, a recent report from the Federal Communications Commission put the number of broadband lines in the United States at 28.3 million at the end of 2003.

Calling the U.S. cable modem market an anomaly, Yankee Group analysts said cable operators in the United States have optimized their networks and are offering speeds twice as fast as DSL. This is prompting DSL players to slash prices to counter a superior product and make up for lagging market share.

"Broadband access continues to be one of the largest and most profitable areas of telecommunications around the world," Lindsay Schroth, a senior analyst at Yankee Group, said in a statement. "Despite the downturn in telecom spending in the past few years, providers are expanding access networks and attracting new broadband subscribers with a variety of access technologies."