What's Up for the Internet in 2003?

Friday, 3 January 2003, 11:06 AM EST

Broadband Internet access into the home will continue to drive Internet adoption in 2003, says Jed Kolko, senior analyst at Forrester. Whether in search of faster Web browsing or the capability to link a growing cadre of entertainment devices, more of us will sign up for high-speed Net access at home in 2003.

By this time next year, 23.3 million households will have broadband connections, according to an EMarketer report. That's a 38 percent jump from the 16.8 million broadband-equipped households in the United States today.

Give it another year, and broadband users will overtake the number of dial-up customers in 2004, Kolko says.

If you haven't switched by then, you'll get a financial push to do so: Dial-up access will jump as high as $40 monthly in 2004, says Vernon Keenan, Internet analyst with Keenan Vision.

"The real cost of bandwidth is going to start to hit the wallets of dial-up users," Keenan says. Higher dial-up cost won't impact broadband users, who already pay a premium for higher speeds, he says.

Why higher dial-up prices? The telecom meltdown that drove dozens of Internet backbone providers out of business and into bankruptcy will finally be billed to consumers, Keenan says. Also, broadband may become more inviting when it bans spam; as backbone providers start skimping on bandwidth, they may be motivated to block the massive amounts of junk e-mail that sap much of their network capacity.

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