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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Content is the key driver to making broadband Internet services a mass market product, according to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA).

Yesterday it launched an awareness campaign, Positively Broadband, in which it called for a new "positive, competitive national agenda on broadband".

The ITAA believes that with more than seven out of ten US households able to hook up to broadband Internet services if they wish (currently, around one in ten households has a broadband Internet connection) the availability of broadband is no longer a barrier to growth.

Instead, it warns that with little compelling content online there's little incentive for consumers to upgrade to broadband.

"It's the content, stupid," said ITAA president, Harris N Miller.

"We are going to have to give consumers better reasons for purchasing broadband service - better than faster email and Web surfing," he said.

As well as content, the ITAA wants to promote a greater awareness about broadband with the adoption of applications and services such as teleworking, e-education, telemedicine and e-government.

"Expecting consumers to buy broadband services without compelling new reasons why is like opening a new sports stadium and expecting a crowd - but not scheduling any games," said Mr Miller.

"You can build it, but they will not come," he said.

The ITAA's stand mirrors similar calls in the UK. Earlier this year cablecos NTL and Telewest teamed up to promote broadband as part of a national advertising campaign.

Separately, Telewest's blueyonder high-speed Net service recently launched improved content for broadband users.

BT has also begun marketing its services and has made a commitment to providing broadband content in a handful of key areas such as games and music.

And only last week, NTL called for a "new, bold initiative" from Government on broadband.

Focusing on education, Bill Goodland, NTL's director of Internet said: "[We need] to educate the public about the benefits of broadband, to increase education in broadband skills of all kinds to consumers and those broadband content creators, and finally, to ensure that students at every school, college and university in this country have the opportunity to use broadband to enhance their studies."

However, in the UK at least there are still some who believe the cost of broadband services is too high and that lack of availability still remains an impediment to take-up. ®

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