You snooze, you lose, says a cable-versus-DSL study from Allied Business Intelligence.

Cable vs. DSL: The Race Is On says DSL providers sat on their technology too long and gave cable a head start in tech development.

"In the last three years, (DSL providers) have been in too much of a race to catch up with cable access to satisfactorily resolve issues of supply, deployment and shared infrastructure access," ABI broadband analyst Mark M. Fox says.

And even the good news comes with a caveat: "They will certainly regroup, and DSL will still be a major player in the wireline broadband market, but by then, cable operators will have a firm grip on the market," he says.

Not only that, hybrid fiber coaxial cable used by cable providers carries hundreds of times more data than a twisted pair of phone wires, and has inexpensive means of eliminating interference problems of shared networks. Those include splitting existing nodes, letting each serve fewer households, and installing new frequency-modulation equipment, the study says.

Add to that troubles with the Bells and linesharing, financial problems of DSL providers and rising access fees.

So why bother supplying DSL?

"The technology remains popular as a less expensive alternative to ISDN and is expected to flourish abroad, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where geographical conditions are unfavorable to cable infrastructure deployment," ABI says.