Gates: Cable modems offer best hope for fast Net

Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates is urging the cable industry to speed deployment of its high-speed Internet access service, which he describes as the fastest Internet connection consumers can get.

"By taking the latest in hardware and software technology, the cable industry will lead the way to provide information-age services in all the homes in the world," Gates said in a speech this week at the National Cable Television Association meeting.

In a separate cable modem development, Microsoft and Intel announced today that they are backing a cable industry effort to promote the use of their super-fast Internet connection, known as the Cable Broadband Forum. Cable companies such as Tele-Communications Incorporated (TCI) and Time Warner are already backing the forum as well.

And how fast is cable modem access? Download speeds from today's cable modem connections can run as fast as 30 Mbs, much higher than the nearest competitor, DSL Lite, which stalls at 1.5 Mbs. Though cable connections are affected by the number of concurrent users, cable companies ensure high bandwidth by limiting the number of users per node, ensuring that the speed will always be faster--and much cheaper--than DSL. The only problem with cable Internet access is that it isn't available everywhere yet, though DSL--which is offered by phone companies in the U.S.--is only available to a limited market thus far as well.

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