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Broadband could generate $500bn a year

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Broadband could prove to be a massive catalyst for economic growth, according to the latest pie-in-the-sky crystal ball gazing from Gartner Dataquest.

Forget the broadband currently on offer - Gartner's talking about broadband with speeds starting from an eye-watering 10Mbps.

Using an economic model from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), it reckons that the universal availability of 10Mbps broadband in the US could deliver an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of $500bn a year for the next ten years.

Part of that growth would be created by the development of a new super-fast network, which would demand "continuous upgrade of communications equipment".

In turn, this investment would drive years of growth in user devices as well as networking hardware, says Gartner - something that would be warmly welcomed in a depressed technology sector.

However, there is a snag.

Gartner reckons delivery of true broadband services to the home over the "last 200 metres" poses a sizeable bottleneck to achieving such a massive economic shot in the arm.

And while there are "substantial rewards with a 'true' broadband environment", there are also risks, says Gartner soberly.

The risks, to name but a few, would be the astronomic costs of such a massive undertaking and the time (bloody years, frankly) it would take to deploy such a network - that's assuming the project won the backing of absolutely everyone.

Said Kathie Hackler of Gartner Dataquest: "The participants in today's economic activities cannot tolerate slow, unsophisticated narrowband communications without suffering a loss of productivity, just as participants of yesterday's industrial age economic activities benefited considerably by the availability of even a modicum of communications capability."

You can read more of Gartner's musings of what's possible, but not probable, in its report Telecom Regulation Has Failed: Now What?. ®

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