Reports of the death of the narrowband modem have been greatly exaggerated. At least that's the latest spin coming from research company IDC.

"They are not finished," said analyst Romolo Pusceddu, who follows modems and broadband technologies for IDC. "Analog modems will still be there for the next three to four years, because they are easy to use, easy to install, and cheap to produce."

IDC is predicting moderate growth in the modem market in western Europe through 2004. "It's also a trend in the last year that old people, let's say people who are more than 50 years old, they buy computers now. They want to go home, turn on the computer, and they are online. And this is really easy by having modems," said Pusceddu.

He added that newer broadband technologies such as ADSL and cable modems, as well as ISDN, widely promoted in western Europe, still haven't caught on with many users because they require expensive professional installation.