Jupiter Forum: Broadband in eye of beholder

Not only are consumers tired of waiting for the knock-your-socks-off world of broadband to take off. Content providers are tired...

Not only are consumers tired of waiting for the knock-your-socks-off world of broadband to take off. Content providers are tired of waiting too.

That message could be gleaned at Jupiter Media Metrix's Media Forum in New York yesterday, when almost half of the attendees left to graze the refreshments table when the broadband panel began.

"It's the chicken and the egg complex," said Yoav Tzruya, vice president of marketing and business development for content software provider TeleKnowledge Group and a member of the forum's broadband panel.

Content providers are waiting for broadband penetration to reach higher levels before they invest in broadband services, and consumers are waiting for more of that content to become available before they take the trouble to sign up for faster Internet access, according to Tzruya.

For some content providers, the answer will be to keep on waiting.

"We have to get through the [broadband] price and availability problems before we expect to see content," said Bryan Neider, chief operating officer at online gaming company EA.com.

Neider voiced an opinion on the minds of many consumers - that broadband is just too expensive and the availability still patchy.

But industry insiders are looking to content providers to fuel broadband growth.

"We need a killer app to get things going," said Erik Smith, director of content and applications at broadband software provider BroadJump. "When you have broadband content that you can't get anywhere else, that's when it will take off."

According to Jupiter analyst Joe Laszlo, broadband growth is being driven by early adopters who want faster access to Web sites. Many broadband service providers are looking to content companies, however, to give their broadband service added value so that they can justify their fees and spark further growth.

Part of the problem in delivering specialised broadband content is that Internet service providers have never been in the content business before, said Smith. "Their idea of content is a dial tone."

While some content providers, especially those in the gaming and video industries, are already forging ahead to design services optimised for broadband, many more are hanging back. But even companies that are not developing services tailored specifically for broadband continue to add rich media content such as video and music.

As Mitch Praver, president of Nationalgeographic.com, put it: "Sometimes broadband is in the eye of the beholder."

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