Broadband figures rise, but content fees still unpopular

March 21, 2002

Brussels, 20 March 2002

Latest figures for broadband access show a healthy rise in the number of people taking up the facility, but research indicates that Internet users are still unwilling to pay for online content.

By the end of 2001, more than 18 million people around the world had a DSL (digital subscriber line) connection, the most popular form of broadband access, with five million having a cable connection.

While the European Union has just six per cent of its households connected to a high speed broadband connection, moves by some Member States to make the service more accessible are paying off. In the UK, Internet service providers have seen a rise in take up since the reduction of prices. One example is BTopenworld's new broadband access product, which is now attracting between 8,000 and 10,000 new subscribers each week, following the introduction of a lower price. Since this price reduction, the number of broadband subscribers in the UK has almost doubled.

In the Netherlands, broadband access is planned at 800 schools. This follows the announcement that US and Dutch firms are working together to ensure that the 800 schools and educational institutes outside urban centres benefit from a satellite system which will guarantee them broadband access.

A new report compiled for the International telecommunications union has found that, while attempts to broaden the bandwidth in Europe continue, other areas of the world are still struggling with the basics. One of the most striking comparisons is that the 400,000 citizens of Luxembourg, who have more international bandwidth than the whole of Africa (population 760 million).

Meanwhile latest research indicates that most online adults cannot understand why anyone would pay for content. Some 70 per cent of respondents in a survey conducted by Jupiter Media Metrix questioned the need to pay for any online content. But 42 per cent said that they expect that, over time, people will be required to pay for content, a small reduction from the number who gave the same response in August 2000. Nonetheless, predicted revenues for 2006 from online content are 6.5 billion euro. The highest earners will be audio/video entertainment (681 million euro), adult content (454 million euro) and financial and business news (397 million euro).

'While there is money to be made in online content business, this latest survey and market forecast numbers indicate that the mass market still largely shuns anything that smells like a subscription online,' said David Card, vice-president of Jupiter. Feedback from another survey, conducted by PwC Consulting of 90 large Spanish companies, showed that nearly half of them were expecting to spend more than 3 million euro in e-business projects in the next three years.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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