Double the number of broadband homes in three years
The proportion of UK households with broadband will almost double in the next three years, with the fastest growth in the remotest areas.
According to a forecast from broadband analyst company Point Topic, the number of installed broadband lines in the country will increase from one-third at the end of 2005 to 64 per cent at the end of 2008. This equates to an increase in business and consumer fat pipes from 9.77 million to 18.46 million.
The fastest growth is predicted in remote rural areas, which currently have the smallest proportion of broadband users.
The South East will get the highest proportion of broadband fans - Waverley in Surrey is forecast to be the area with highest household take-up, with 91 per cent of households on broadband by 2008.
But this means the market is going to get tougher for suppliers.
Point Topic chief executive Tim Johnson said the number of new broadband lines is going to fall from about 3.7 million this year to 2.2 million in 2008, as broadband increases its reach and the rate of growth slows.
He said in a statement: "The ISPs are going to have to fight much harder to keep their share of a shrinking market. They're going to be trying to take customers off each other rather than finding new ones."
This also means going after new types of customers.
Johnson added: "Getting older and poorer people fully online is going to be a lot more difficult but it has to be done."
A separate survey by JupiterResearch shows the strong growth of broadband is shaping the media consumption landscape, with Europeans now spending more time online than reading newspapers and magazines.
The survey revealed Europeans spend an average of four hours per week online, compared to just two hours in 2003. The increased availability of broadband was fingered as an underlying reason for the increased time online.