At the end of each year, we look at how broadband has changed in the preceding twelve months and what new innovations we expect to see in the forthcoming year. We don't think it can be debated that 2003 has been a good year for broadband services with more users being able to get broadband services and more options being available for many be it via cable, ADSL or through some alternatively technologies such as wireless and satellite.
In our review of 2002, we suggested BT would probably introduce a faster residential service in the early parts of 2003, and indeed BT did introduce a 50:1 contended Home1000 service, albeit slightly later than predicted. Other providers did however introduce faster services based on the BT Wholesale DataStream platform even earlier and we expect this will drive the introduction of 2Mbps services in 2004, expecting a BT IPStream Home2000 launch in Q4/2004 or early 2005 depending on how contention is managed over the year. Pricing on existing broadband services may fall as take-up increases and better economies of scale are achieved.
What is probably one of the most significant changes in 2003 has been BT's focus on the exchange demand tracking scheme and pushing the support for local campaigners to help them promote broadband in their area to get to the necessary trigger level. Having met and talked to many campaigners in the last few months, we are amazed by the dedication that some of them put into campaigning to get their community broadband enabled spending hours on end marketing a product at zero commission. Two campaigners in particular we feel should be mentioned: Pete Berry from Broadband4Grimsby who has run successful campaigns numbering over a dozen exchanges taking his experience to help other areas as well as his own and Simon Final of Camelford who managed to get over 500 registrations without even a trigger, setting an example for others to follow to get broadband to their communities.
Whether the "killer application" that pushes up broadband demand will be found in 2004 is uncertain but what we can be sure of is that next year will see a shift from broadband access to broadband content as the general broadband user is not after raw speed but services. This will be facilitated by wider scale adoption of voice over IP (VoIP) services and better broadband focussed services from content providers such as BBCi and other broadcasters as we draw closer to the critical mass of broadband adoption. Until now, broadband streaming, etc. has been an extra rather than a normal part of a service and we shall see this become the standard, if not even the only way to receive certain content.
On the access side, more and more unmetered dialup users are expected to shift to sub-broadband services at 150kbps, etc. and will get a taste of one of the key benefits broadband offers--Always on. Once the content provision catches up with the technology and we get streaming movie rentals, interactive shopping, on-demand entertainment, etc. the upgrade to faster broadband services will be inevitable. Perhaps the challenge for BT however will be to deliver broadband to those currently out of reach either because they live far away from the exchange and those on lines delivered by optical fibre.
It has been a very busy year for all of us at ADSLguide from all fronts. At the beginning of December, we saw the one millionth post on our forums which is a very useful and under utilised resource that has answers to most questions.
As always, we'd like to thank everyone who has made the site what it is today. Andrew spends a lot of time researching news content, meeting with different stakeholders, reviewing hardware and helping users leaving the rest of us wondering whether he actually has a 'real' job; Jeremy's development work and administration on the back-end of the main site are essential to keep it running from day to day; Martin's tactful help on the forums has been amazing over the last year taking a lot of workload off us and letting us focus on other parts of the site. We would also like to thank the ISP staff who take part on the site, especially those who help users on our forums in their own spare time, not forgetting helpful users on the forums who ensure the community is thriving.
May we wish all our visitors a very Happy New Year!
Sebastien & John
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