Asia leads the way in broadband growth

Over 26 million homes and businesses around the world now have high-speed DSL Internet connections, but Britain doesn't even make the top 20 countries

The number of households and businesses worldwide with high-speed DSL Internet connections has hit 26 million -- with South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong leading the way.

But the survey makes grim reading for advocates of 'Broadband Britain', with the UK failing to register in a top 20 which includes other European countries such as Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Worldwide growth of 36 per cent during the past six months has added 6.8 million subscribers to the global total, according to figures collated by Point Topic, a DSL industry analyst firm, and released at the DSL Forum Summit in London on Wednesday.

As ZDNet UK reported last month, broadband take-up doubled in the UK in the six months of 2002, following BT's decision earlier in the year to substantially cut the cost of its ADSL-based broadband products.

There are thought to be around 850,000 broadband end-users in Britain, and according to latest figures up to 20,000 new customers are signing up each week.

The Asia Pacific region accounts for the greatest market share with 42 per cent of the world's broadband DSL subscribers. North America is second with 26 per cent and Europe is coming up fast on the rails with 25 per cent.

In a statement, William Rodey, chairman of the DSL Forum, said: "It is exciting to see that South Korea has already reached mass market status with DSL operating on 26.14 percent of all phone lines. The rest of the world is fast moving in the same direction towards our global mass market target of 200 million DSL broadband subscribers by 2005.

"If Western Europe's growth rate of over 50 percent continues -- now with than six million subscribers -- the region will soon outstrip North America in the global league table of DSL subscriber numbers. Already 2.97 percent of Western Europe's telephone lines are providing DSL services compared to North America's 3.08 percent line penetration."

A spokesman for Point Topic said: "These figures show there continues to be a robust demand for broadband. Even in the midst of economic slowdown and telecoms crisis, DSL rollout is still going ahead at a high rate. Broadband is going to be a highly competitive market, but it's clear that DSL will take the biggest share of it."

The full top 20 looks like this:

1. South Korea 2. Taiwan 3. Hong Kong 4. Belgium 5. Canada 6. Denmark 7. Germany 8. Singapore 9. Japan 10. Sweden 11. Finland 12. Estonia 13. Spain 14. Austria 15. Norway 16. Israel 17. USA 18. Switzerland 19. France 20. Netherlands

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