Europeans are signing up for broadband faster than ever research reveals.
The majority of homes are becoming wired for broadband
The report by analysts Datamonitor said high-speed net services were popular because intense competition was driving awareness to new highs and prices to new lows.
Datamonitor said it expected the dash for broadband to peter out in two years time when European user numbers topped out at 60% of households.
It predicted that up to 8 million UK households will have broadband by 2008.
The report by the analyst firm looked at how European consumers in 16 nations and assessed how interested in broadband they were.
It found that the rate at which people are signing up to broadband is currently at its highest thanks to the feverish state of competition in the telecoms industry.
This was driving net firms to mount aggressive marketing campaigns which have made consumers very aware of broadband services. At the same time broadband access has improved making it available to a larger pool of potential customers. Many net firms are also advertising very high broadband speeds to attract power users.
The competition has also led to net service firms lowering prices in a bid to undercut rivals and grab a large slice of the market.
Datamonitor said this strategy made sense given that in some European markets the consumer broadband market was growing at 10% a year. In some countries, however, there were signs that interest was maturing and sign-ups were slowing.
Figures from the UK Office of National Statistics bear this out. ONS statistics released in early November that broadband growth is continuing at the expense of dial-up.
Broadband now makes up 57.4% of all net connections compared to 42.6% for dial-up. In the last year dial-up connections had shrunk by 28.7%.
However, broadband subscriber numbers only grew by 1% from August to September 2005 though it was up 20 percentage points over the 12 months to September.
Telecoms firms were keen to convert people to broadband from dial-up because they saw it as a way to make up some of the cash they were losing as revenue from voice calls dried up.
Many broadband offers now include voice-over-internet call offers and cable firms tend to bundle TV, telephone and net together in a bid to tempt subscribers.
The dominant broadband technology across Europe was DSL with penetration highest in France, Norway and Holland where prices have been under the greatest pressure.
The current high growth was unlikely to last beyond the next 18 months, warned the analyst firm when it is likely to hit 60% of households in most European markets. By comparison in many nations, the net is used in 70% of households.