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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Britain clicks on broadband button
Stephen Timms, DTI
Stephen Timms gets his hands on broadband
The number of broadband users in Britain has hit the one million mark.

The millionth customer of high-speed net access was connected up in the last week according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

The numbers of people and businesses signing up for broadband has trebled since the start of 2002. Oftel estimates that 20,000 connections per week are being installed.

Before now many studies have shown that Britain has lagged behind the US and much of Europe in the numbers of people signed up to the speedy services.

Speed freaks

Broadband replaces relatively slow dial-up modem net access, which runs at a maximum of 56 kilobits per second, with a service that can run up to 10 times faster.

Even better, broadband is effectively always on so there is no need to dial-up to access it.

In the UK most people currently get broadband access via cable suppliers such as NTL and Telewest, although the numbers using ADSL, which comes via phone lines, is rapidly catching up.

Many firms offering ADSL do so by reselling BT's service.


The UK is well on its way to being the most extensive and competitive market for broadband in the world

Stephen Timms, E-Commerce Minister
In the past BT has been accused of delaying the rollout of broadband which has left Britain at the bottom of international tables documenting business and consumer broadband use.

"It took five years for the UK to see a million people using mobile phones," said E-Commerce Minister Stephen Timms.

"At this pace, the UK is well on its way to being the most extensive and competitive market for broadband in the world."

Limited choice

But DTI figures reveal that the UK has some way to go before broadband reaches its full potential audience.

The department said that currently 63% of the population have access to a broadband service, but only 40% have a choice of suppliers.

BT recently introduced a system that promised to bring broadband to areas that do not have it, if local residents could show there was enough interest.

The initiative has already led to some telephone exchanges being connected up to broadband services.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released this week showed that broadband is being taken up by consumers faster in the UK than in France or Germany.

But Germany is still way ahead in terms of raw numbers. OECD figures estimate that 45% of German net users have a broadband connection.


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