The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

When a household decides to take the plunge into high-speed broadband Internet, it invariably chooses to go with cable instead of DSL. In fact, cable outpaces DSL by a 2 to 1 ratio, and according to Yankee Group, that disparity is likely to persist as broadband adoption increases this decade.

Why does cable outdo DSL? I've often thought it was because the cable companies tended to advertise and market their wares at a higher volume (if not a higher effectiveness level) than phone companies do. That's certainly part of the equation. But I think I've found the best, most succinct explanation for cable's greater success I've ever seen from this article. According to Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman,

"It's also a function of how consumers view broadband -- whether they see it for entertainment or communication."

Since many consumers seem to associate broadband with entertainment, he explained, they tend to choose cable. Those who perceive high-speed access as a business tool or a way to communicate with others are more likely to pick DSL, since the phone is viewed in a similar way.

That makes perfect sense! I can't believe I never viewed it that way before. It goes a long way toward accounting why most people never think twice about calling the cable company for their Web hookup. If the phone companies want to catch up, they'd be well-advised to position their DSL services with entertainment in mind (at least for residential; they're doing pretty well in the small-business market).