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The Future of ADSL According to Zen

Posted: 15th Jun, 2005 By: MarkJ
Stuart Birchall, the technical services director for UK ISP Zen Internet, has written us an opinion piece that attempts to predict how cheaper and faster ADSL connections are likely to change our lives over the next 5 years:

ADSL has already significantly improved the way the majority of people use the Internet over recent years, and we can expect it to change things yet further, as undoubtedly, the most significant development to emerge in the next 12 months will be the increase in overall speed from the 2Mbps connections that are typical in the UK to 8Mbps and beyond. This increase in speed will create a credible market for speed dependant products and services such as IP TV. We will see the advent of genuinely on-demand media content distributed to the home using the Internet as a delivery mechanism once higher ADSL speeds are available to the majority of current and prospective broadband users in the UK.

The price of ADSL will continue to fall, but the market is likely to become progressively more fragmented and will begin to resemble the mobile phone industry by presenting a bewildering number of tariffs and products. Choosing a broadband service will soon become increasingly difficult for people who want a simple always-on and uncapped connection.

The availability of broadband in the UK is currently better than for natural gas. However, you can expect to see new products and services being made available to customers throughout the UK by companies who are beginning to compete directly with BT. This should result in more competitive pricing and faster speeds in many areas of the country.

Life, but not as we know it

In the next few years we will see some changes, in both digital convergence and the advent of new business models for media distribution. Both these changes are dependent on universal access to high speed broadband services but we will start to see the widespread introduction of key enabling speeds in the next 12 months.

Convergence has been talked about for some time and assumes that TV, telephone and Internet services are delivered over the same connection. It needs the right access speeds, access technologies and billing systems, but offers vastly improved choice and convenience to the consumer and cost savings to the supplier. You can expect to be able to buy TV on demand and a telephone service from your ISP in the next five years. Your telephone bill is likely to change, being charged by the number dialled and not the duration of the call. Bills can also be expected to fall dramatically or disappear altogether for local and national calls.

The way you consume media - watching TV and listening to music will also undergo significant change. Television will be driven entirely by personal preference, with the gradual disappearance of broadcast services. How you pay for programming could also change, involving subscribing to specific shows or genres instead of relying on broadcast advertising. Niche markets will be more significant for content developers and distributors who will have to change their supply channels and production methods accordingly.

Technologically, you can expect to maintain the same Internet identity while roaming between fixed and wireless networks, enabling you to connect to low-end broadband services on the move, using a combination of new generation of higher powered Wi-Fi devices and mobile phone 3G services.


We doubt that traditional TV broadcast services will disappear quite so quickly as suggested, but the rest is viable. Presently the greatest barrier remains a lack of knowledge, with the other potentially being price.
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