Broadband is one of the fastest-growing technologies in history, according to research group Point Topic, which has calculated that there are now over 100 million broadband lines worldwide.
In the third quarter of 2003, the broadband market grew from 79.4 million lines to 89.4 million. Based on this growth, Point Topic is confident that the 100-million mark has now been breached.
"Maintaining the same percentage growth in the fourth quarter of 2003 will have taken the worldwide number past 100 million," said Tim Johnson, publisher of Point Topic. "In fact, growth in the fourth quarter is usually faster than in the third," Johnson added.
Johnson added that the take-up of broadband is outstripping that of mobile phones. It took five and a half years for the number of mobile phone users to leap from 10 million to 100 million -- broadband has made the same jump in just three and a half years.
One reason for this rapid growth, which was especially strong in 2003, was a raft of price cuts by operators across the globe.
According to Point Topic's analysis, broadband has finally taken off in the main industrialised nations. Countries such as the UK had been outpaced by smaller rivals in broadband uptake in the past, but Point Topic reports that all the G7 nations are now in the top ten in terms of total number of broadband lines.
China, currently fourth on this list, is on track to become the world's largest broadband market. Point Topic predicts that it will overtake third-placed South Korea within the next three months, followed by Japan and eventually the United States.
The UK is ninth on this list, ahead of Italy. Canada, Germany, France and Taiwan filled places five to eight.