Narrowband vs. Broadband

As little as two years ago, in-flight e-mail seemed a far-fetched concept. But today, it’s up and running, flying on airlines like Air Canada and Singapore Airlines, thanks to Tenzing Communications.

Now that the concept has been validated, the debate is turning to speed–narrow vs. broadband. Connexion by Boeing has broadband and Tenzing has broadband and narrowband. Thing is, broadband satellite access for airplanes won’t be global until 2005, and even then prices will be much steeper than for 56K access. So, should airlines outfit their planes with connectivity systems now, or wait for the "fat pipe"?

A couple of questions must be addressed: Do customers really need high-speed access, knowing that most of them only need e-mail access? And do they want to pay for that speed?

There are facts and figures that illustrate just some of the confusion inherent in the broadband-vs.-narrowband debate, particularly when speaking in global terms. According to InfoWorld, on a typical day in November and December 2000, 49% of users went online to gain access to e-mail, 22% were looking for news and 23% said they went online to browse for fun.

According to survey results reported by the U.S. General Accounting Office, 88% of Internet users had dial-up connections, 9% used cable modems, 3% used DSL, and 0.4% used the wireless Internet. Of the 88% who used narrowband, 36.6% used it because it was the best price.

Despite steady growth over the past two years, critical mass has yet to arrive for the broadband market. Nielsen/NetRatings reports that between December 1999 and December 2000, access via the 56K modem grew 87%. However, according to The Strategis Group, high-speed access will surpass dial-up by 2005; Jupiter Communications puts the number at 28 million U.S. households by 2005.

A study conducted by Jupiter Media Metrix among European countries predicted that broadband penetration in the Nordic countries, now at 2.3%, will rise to 30% by 2005. By contrast, the UK currently demonstrates a 0.3% penetration, but will only rise to 15% by 2005.

The best answer to provide options: a connectivity solution that can be implemented immediately, as well as an upgrade plan for the future.

Cameron Rogers
Imagio JWT
(Imagio JWT is a public relations agency representing Tenzing.–Editor)

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