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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
UK falls behind in broadband race
Surfer, Eyewire
The UK government wants five million broadband users by 2005
Britain continues to lag behind other major European countries in the take-up of high-speed internet services, a survey by a leading internet market research firm suggests.

The British government has been pushing phone firms and internet service providers (ISPs) to improve the take-up of high-speed broadband internet.

They have responded by cutting the price of their broadband internet services.

Only 14% of UK households use a broadband high speed connection to dial up the internet, research firm Nielsen//NetRatings found.

'Absurd' target

This compares with 45% in Germany, 43% in Sweden and 41% in the Netherlands and 22% in France.

The figures reveal that the UK government's target of turning the country into the leading user of broadband among the G7 group of industrial nations by 2005 is "absurd if you set it against current rates of growth", said Nielsen internet analyst Tom Ewing.

"What we're seeing here is an improvement but not much of one," he said.

The figures measure households using one of several forms of high speed access, including cable modems, digital subscriber lines (DSL) and high-speed phone lines (ISDN).

A year ago, 5% of UK households were using broadband internet.

Price wars

ISPs have criticised British Telecom (BT) in the past for failing to make enough high-speed lines available to them to meet demand.

BT, which has publicly embraced the government's goal of 'broadband Britain', cut the price of broadband connections to wholesalers in April.

It has unveiled a low-cost retail package for domestic customers.

Other ISPs have also cut prices in the wake of the wholesale price cut.

"This summer we did see a lot of aggressive marketing of broadband, and there are signs that the uptake is rising, but it'll take more than just advertising to catch up with markets like Germany," said Mr Ewing.

Britain has at least three quarters of a million users of high-speed internet.

BT has said there at least 300,000 users of DSL lines, while data from cable firms shows about half million users of high speed cable modems.

Cable firm NTL said in August it had 300,000 high speed subscribers, while the UK's second cable operator, Telewest, claimed 192,000 broadband customers in the higher band of 152 kilobits per second.

UK homes can now obtain broadband internet connections for between 14.75 and 35 a month.

See also:

09 Sep 02 | Technology
30 Jul 02 | Technology
23 Jul 02 | Technology
12 Jul 02 | Rob on the road
11 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
11 Jul 02 | Wales
05 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
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