Who would have thought two years ago that we would be able to get broadband for free? Those were the days when it cost on average £25 for a 512k (per second) connection. Broadband was reserved for "cyber geeks". The rest of us were happy enough with our super slow dialup connection.

A broadband revolution has been sweeping the nation ever since. Broadband speeds have increased dramatically and prices have plummeted. Now 512k is considered slow. Anything under 2Mb (per second) won't do. The "cyber geeks" are really moving into the fast lane, with download speeds of up to 24Mb available.

Prices for broadband fell significantly during 2005 and continue to do so. This led to more people signing up to broadband as it became more affordable. This, in turn, lead to more companies offering cut price broadband to attract those customers, which led to even more customers becoming interested. And the cycle continued. About 80,000 per week now sign up to a broadband package in the UK.

It has gone so far that you can now get broadband for free. If anyone mentioned free broadband 2 years ago, they would have been branded as being insane. Now it is a reality with TalkTalk offering free broadband to its Talk3 customers and Orange to its mobile customers. Cynics argue that it is not free, as you have to buy another service to get it. But even then, it is a damn good deal.

So where is the market going to go?

The rapidly changing world of telecommunications is going to force many of the smaller players out of the market. They simply will not be able to survive as margins are squeezed. Even the big players are finding the going tough. Telecom giant Cable and Wireless announced this week that it is broadband subsidiary, Bulldog, will no longer be offering broadband to residential customers.

Packages that include 2, 3 or even 4 products will become commonplace. Broadband providers have realised that they cannot make enough money from broadband alone to survive. So they are bundling broadband with other products, such as home phone, digital television and mobile. Market leaders such as TalkTalk, NTL and Telewest have been doing this for some time.

Broadband speeds will continue to rise as the technology moves forwards. This will lead to broadband becoming the centre of home communications. Your digital TV and home phone will be transmitted over a broadband connection.

The world of broadband has certainly come along way in the past 2 years, from a geeks product to mass market. The next 2 years will just as interesting, as broadband becomes the main communications platform in your home.

[article by Tony George]