Broadband: Plug 'n' Play

There are lots of broadband data — seemingly contradictory — now running around in the market. Pew says: Growth has slowed and will be flat. Nielsen says it's up and continuing to grow: "Two out of every five Americans has broadband." Rumors about a national (U.S.) Google WiFi network still are vigorously circulating.

To make a very simple, self-evident statement, the continued growth of a range of Internet products and services (not to mention search) hinges to a large degree on continuing broadband adoption (let's put aside wireless for the moment).

In July, a WSJ story (cited by Reuters in this excerpt) reported the following:

Google Inc. , Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Hearst Corp. are investing about $100 million in Current Communications Group, a start-up that
offers high-speed Internet connections over electricity lines, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Current Communications, of Germantown, Maryland, uses a technology that sends Internet signals over regular power lines, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Now there's this related development: A new chip developed by Matsushita in Japan allows ordinary electrical outlets to become high-speed connections without any Ethernet connection.

This gives new meaning to "plug 'n' play."

The totality of technological developments, including those above, combined with competitive pressures in the marketplace, argue that broadband growth in the U.S. (and around the globe) will continue until it reaches very high penetration rates (time is the only true "X factor" here). South Korea, the most wired country in the world, for example, has almost 100 percent Internet penetration, about 75 percent of which is through very high-speed connections.

Broadband growth = growth of broadband consumer behavior patterns, which The Kelsey Group and others have documented fairly extensively.

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