Residential broadband to create a bandwidth divide

Gartner believes high speed broadband will create a divide between rural and residential

September 11, 2009

Gartner believes high speed broadband will create a divide between rural and residential

Ultra-high-speed residential broadband will create a bandwidth divide that will emerge in the next three to five years in which urbanized areas will benefit from increased download speeds while rural and less-populated areas will not, according to Gartner.

Ultra-high-speed residential broadband — defined as a broadband service supporting download speeds of 50 Mbps and above — will have a wide-ranging impact on consumers, from the way they experience video, to how they communicate in the future.

“Ultra broadband will exacerbate the digital divide among different world regions, as well as within countries,” said Fernando Elizalde, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Governments in countries that lag behind in the deployment of ultra broadband will come under increasing pressure to use public funds to upgrade broadband infrastructure to avoid falling behind.”

Rapid downloading or live streaming of movies and television will be a key driver for consumers being prepared to pay more to move to ultra-high-speed broadband Internet services, while the distribution of user-generated content through e-mail, social network sites, and video-sharing Web sites will also increase demand for ultra-broadband.

However, Elizalde warned that a number of factors are likely to challenge adoption, not the least is the fact that aside from the benefit of accessing video over the Internet, many consumers will not see a need to pay for higher bandwidth when there are no applications that currently require it.

“Despite these challenges, ultra broadband will happen and application developers should use the opportunity offered by the early adopter markets of Japan and South Korea to carry out live testing of new applications and innovations before it becomes mainstream globally,” said Mr. Elizalde. “Operators must position faster broadband speeds as a premium service to avoid commoditization of ultra broadband and strike a balance between their need to charge more for faster broadband and consumer willingness to pay for the extra speed.”