Broadband has out-stripped unmetered dial-up connections in the UK for the first time, official figures show.
More and more people are switching to broadband
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of always-on connections reached 31% in July, compared with 29% for unmetered access.
Competition, falling prices and better availability is fuelling the growth.
Although dial-up is on the wane, it is still the way most Britons connect to the net, with more than a third paying per minute.
The monthly figures from the ONS reflect the general switch to broadband in the UK.
Many net providers now offer a range of broadband packages and some, like Wanadoo (formerly Freeserve), have started to encourage their large base of dial-up customers to swap to their broadband offerings.
Competition has driven down the cost of broadband. In some cases, it is comparable with the cost of an unmetered 56Kbps dial-up connection.
UK NET SUBSCRIPTIONS
Pay as you go/free dial-up: 35%
Unmetered dial-up: 29%
Source: ONS July 2004 report
By comparison, the standard broadband account offers speeds of 512Kbps.
The ONS figures suggest that the appeal of an always-on connection is tempting people away from paying a fixed amount for a dial-up net subscription.
The statistics for July show broadband overtaking unmetered for the first time.
"The increase in the market share for permanent connections reflects the continued marketing drive, competitive pricing and the increase in availability
of broadband services," said the ONS report
"However, dial-up still dominates the overall number of subscriptions despite decreasing to 69.1% of all subscriptions in July 2004."
This is because many people - 35% - go online using dial-up, paying for the time they are connected to the internet.
The number of people switching to broadband looks set to increase. In early September, BT scrapped exchange distance limits, putting a million more homes and businesses in reach of broadband.
Now anyone living more than 6km from an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) exchange will be able to get a 512Kbps connection.
More than 91% of the UK has access to a broadband-enabled exchange. The figure is set to surpass 99% by summer 2005.