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High-Speed Access Rising Rapidly, FCC Says

Demand for broadband access is meeting the most aggressive projections of analysts, as the Federal Communications Commission this week reported extremely rapid rates of high-speed line adoption in 2003.

With more than 28 million lines in service, high-speed access experienced a 42 percent growth spurt in 2003, according to the most recent summary statistics from the FCC.

This rising tide of adoption is raising the prospects of all high-speed service providers. But in the battle for residential and small-business Internet users, the FCC numbers depict a better outlook for cable players than they do for DSL providers.

In the perennial struggle between cable and telecom-based providers, cable solutions remained the access medium of choice, accounting for 16.4 million high-speed lines at the end of year, compared to 9.5 million lines serviced by DSL providers. The remaining 2.3 million high-speed connections in service were primarily accounted for by satellite, wireless and fiber high-speed connections.

Where it counts the most, however, cable providers have the trend winds at their back. Among advanced services lines -- where speeds exceed 200 kbps in both directions -- DSL-based services increased by 39 percent, while cable modem connections increased by 84 percent over the 12-month period.

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