The number of broadband subscribers in the UK is set to overtake narrowband punters during 2005 as more and more people hook up to high-speed Net services.
But while broadband growth continues its upward curve, there are still challenges facing the industry that need to be addressed.
Delivering an opening keynote speech to the Internet World show in London today, AOL UK VP, David Gilbey, said that 2003 had been an "extremely interesting and pivotal year for us". Broadband users are spending more time online and doing more, he said, with nine out of ten users either quite, or very satisfied with their service.
However, he noted that broadband start-up costs are still causing a financial headache for ISPs and that it is still proving to be a barrier to new users signing up to broadband.
What's more, he added, support costs for broadband customers are four times higher than narrowband punters: "We need to improve installation and set-up process and improve network performance and the flow of information."
In other words, setting up broadband in the home is still too troublsome for many users and therefore puts pressure on tech support. And once the system is up and running, punters need to be kept better informed of any network issues that might be affecting their service.
And then there are those people reluctant to join the broadband revolution. According to AOL UK's own research, a third of people said they didn't use the Net enough to warrant upgrading to broadband. Three in ten said the cost of monthly subscribtions was too prohibitive while 14 per cent said installation costs were too high.
Despite this, the figures suggest that the number of broadband punters will overtake dial-up users during 2005 as broadband numbers increase and narrowband becomes a declining part of the market, he said. ®