Cable modems set to boom

Cable television and telephone companies world-wide are limbering up to do battle for the booming community of Internet users, and a key weapon in the armoury of the cable companies is the cable modem. The market research group Ovum predicts that sales of cable modems will boom between now and 2005 as a result of demand from consumers and businesses for faster and more reliable Internet access.

The rapid rise in sales will be accompanied by a dramatic drop in prices. Ovum predicts that the average unit price of cable modems will plummet from $595 at launch later this year to a more manageable $160 by 2005.

As a result, Ovum believes that, by 2005, the number of installed cable modems will reach 19.1 million, but it says that by 2001 the development of new technology will start to squeeze the growth of cable modems, as public telephone service providers start to fight back.

Bill Gates going ballistic?

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, is said to be considering how SS-18 ballistic missiles that were once part of the former Soviet Union's nuclear armoury can help him to blast off a "super Internet in the sky".

Gates is one of the key backers of Teledesic Corp, which aims to build a high-quality, world-wide voice, video and data network using a large number of low-orbiting satellites.

Nuclear experts from Russia and Ukraine are formatting a proposal that could see the SS-18s used as Teledesic's satellite launch carriers. A decision as to whether or not Gates goes nuclear is expected within the next few months.