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Broadband Gear Sales Edge Up in Q1

Despite a dip in unit shipments, broadband revenues for equipment makers edged up slightly in the first quarter as cable operators and DSL providers accelerated their rollout of voice-over-IP (VoIP) service.

In the latest market survey by Infonetics Research, broadband consumer equipment sales climbed 3% to $1.3 billion worldwide in Q1 even as unit shipments slipped 2% to 30.2 million. The numbers suggest that cable and phone companies reached deeper into their existing inventory to roll new consumer devices rather than buy new gear during the winter quarter. The figures also suggest that consumers are paying more for the average piece of broadband gear than they used to, probably because they're purchasing more sophisticated equipment that can carry both data and voice signals.

Indeed, Jeff Heynen, directing analyst at Infonetics Research, said both telco voice terminal adapters (VTAs) and cable embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) enjoyed "a phenomenal first quarter on the heels of record fourth quarter sales." He noted that global VTA revenue more than doubled from the fourth quarter of 2005 while worldwide E-MTA revenue jumped 27%.

Even with the slower growth of the first quarter, Infonetics projects that broadband equipment sales will soar over the next three years. The research firm sees manufacturer revenues rising briskly from $4.9 billion last year to $8.6 billion in 2009.

Infonetics also predicts that DSL will maintain its wide lead over cable across the globe despite cable's broadband edge in the U.S. and Canada. The firm forecasts that the number of DSL subscribers will reach 245 million worldwide in 2009 while the number of cable modem customers will approach 70 million worldwide.

Further, Infonetics sees Internet Protocol television (IPTV) emerging as a strong force globally in spite of its sluggish start in North America. The firm projects that the number of IPTV subscribers will surpass 53 million around the world by the end of 2009.

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