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Research Firm Says Cable, Wireless to Dominate High-Speed Market

Cable and wireless companies stand to grab the lion's share of the high-speed Internet market, according to a new study from Datacomm Research Co.

In its study, "Bandwidth Bonanza: High-Speed Internet Access Technologies, Markets and Vendors," Datacomm president Ira Brodsky goes so far as to predict "traditional telcos, long regarded as harmful monopolies, will slowly wither and die as local access shifts from circuit-based, narrowband services to IP-based, broadband services."

The study examined nine leading high-speed Internet access technologies including cable, digital subscriber line, millimeter wave radio such as local multipoint distribution service, cellular, wireless cable, satellite, wireless LANs and infrared-based services.

Datacomm said cable will defeat DSL because cable operators across the country are feverishly upgrading their infrastructure and cooperating with third parties to make high-speed data access a reality. Datacomm is predicting there will be 5.8 million cable modem subscribers by 2003 compared to an estimated 400,000 at the end of 1998.

"Despite some false starts, cable TV networks are well on their way to offering interactive voice, data and video services to (home office) and consumer markets."

The report predicts wireless will eventually become the top broadband platform because wireless operators can more quickly roll out offerings. They will also benefit from higher cost efficiency and because they are routinely upgrading their infrastructure.

The company forecasts that by 2003, wireless will eclipse land-based services for high-speed access.

The two wireless companies most likely to take advantage of the growth are Teligent and Winstar, Datacomm said. Other winners will include Teledesic's broadband satellite offering.

Datacomm said the evolution to high-speed access will redefine telecommunications services to include constant connectivity, bandwidth on demand and mobility.