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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 09:10 GMT
Tempting people to broadband
Cables to carry signals, Eyewire
The cable are laid but is the content there?
test hello test
By BBC News Online's Jane Wakefield
As the cost of high-speed net access falls in the Britain, the next big hurdle will be convincing users that they cannot live without broadband.

Broadband in the UK looks set to have a much higher profile with BT lowering the cost and launching a huge marketing campaign to promote its ADSL service.

While ISPs can now offer ADSL services for about 30 a month, analysts believe that the price would have to fall to about 20 a month to attract mass take-up.

That is unless providers can come up with some killer content that users simply cannot resist.

Killer content?

Music and gaming have proved the biggest pulls yet and subscription betting services could also be a driver.

Gambling is already one of the biggest draws for interactive digital TV.

Hamish McKenzie from analyst firm IDC believes internet content alone might not be enough to drive broadband into the mass market.

"The collapse proved that people weren't prepared to pay a lot of money for content and broadband is likely to be driven by a combination of content and services," he told BBC News Online.

"Providers like BT are going to have to offer television and video services as well," he said.

Whether BT is willing to make the necessary investment to upgrade its ADSL network for television services is not yet clear.

For now, it is going to have to make clever partnerships with content providers, believes Mr McKenzie.

The BBC has launched its own broadband content offering video clips of news, weather and sport. At the moment it is available through Freeserve but deals with other broadband providers are in the pipeline.

Marketing will be key

BT's broadband provider, BTopenworld, is well aware of the importance of content and has been busy shopping for services to attract users.

This week it bought popular music website Dotmusic for around 1m. It plans to launch a subscription service to sit alongside existing services for classical music and computer games.

If content is key to the success of broadband, then awareness of the technology is also crucial.

To this end BTopenworld is launching a multi-million pound marketing campaign for broadband on the back of its launch of self-install ADSL.

In April, it airs its first ever broadband TV advert and two million CDs to sign up to broadband will also go on sale in high street stores.

US ahead

While the UK struggles to embrace broadband with a mere 300,000 homes currently connected to high-speed net access, across the pond broadband has reached a significant milestone.

In January, broadband accounted for over half the time spent online in the US for the first time.

Of the 2.3 billion hours Americans devoted to surfing in January, 51% of this was done via a high-speed connection, according to internet measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

"Broadband usage has hit the mainstream [in the US]," said NetRatings analyst Jarvis Mak.

See also:

26 Feb 02 | Business
Opening up the broadband market
26 Feb 02 | Business
BT cuts broadband charges
19 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Dogged fight for broadband
04 Feb 02 | Business
Broadband too dear, say Europeans
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