The UK has more than three million homes and businesses with high-speed broadband access, Oftel has announced.
Broadband is a fast growing technology
The telecoms watchdog, currently being replaced by Ofcom, claimed 40,000 new connections were being made every week.
E-commerce minister Stephen Timms said the three million figure had been reached earlier than expected and was great news for the broadband market.
The dominant player in the market, BT, has said every UK community could have broadband net by 2005.
True high-speed net?
Broadband gives web users an "always on" connection with fast downloading speeds of about 512Kbps.
But Oftel's figures include the minimum 128Kbps and 150Kbps connection speeds which some say are not fast enough to be considered true broadband.
The figures mean one in five homes that do have net access get it through a broadband connection, more than twice as many homes as last year.
"Broadband is one of the fastest-growing new technologies in recent years," said David Edmonds, Oftel's director general.
"It is transforming the way consumers and businesses use the internet, and is
now becoming an important market in its own right.
"In the last five years the internet has moved from the margins to the mass
market, with half of all UK households and two-thirds of businesses now
Currently, 80% of UK's population can get access to broadband net via fixed ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), but much of that percentage is clustered in urban areas.
The figure is expected to reach 90% in 2004, according to BT.
Broadband through cable connections, offered by companies like NTL and Telewest, reaches about 40% of the population.
Many rural communities which cannot get ADSL or cable broadband connections have had to find alternative ways to get high-speed net, using technologies like wireless net and satellite connections.