[qi:009] A report prepared for The Broadband Forum by research firm Point Topic and released today says that there are now 400 million broadband subscribers worldwide. In 1998, there were only 57,200 subscribers — that’s growth of nearly 600,000 percent. I was there — chronicling the emergence of now-forgotten names such as Northpoint Communications and @Home Networks. There was a time when the U.S. led the broadband race. Today we merely follow.
DSL is still the most widely used technology, but fiber is rapidly catching on. In 2002, there were 18,000 fiber broadband subscribers — now there are 45 million. Whichever way you look at it, this is a massive achievement and the numbers show that broadband is the platform. Had it not been for broadband, we wouldn’t have seen the emergence of Skype, YouTube, and countless other such innovations. But it’s all coming under threat, thanks to the backward-looking policies of companies like Time Warner Cable, Comcast and AT&T, all of which want to put a meter on bandwidth — and with it, innovation.
We will worry about that another day. For now, remember: 400 million broadband subscribers.