Study: Hong Kong tops in broadband, US in access

Hong Kong stands alone in the world as the only country where a majority of Internet users make their connections to the ‘Net over cable modems or high-speed phone lines, according to a new study released by Nielsen//NetRatings Inc. on Thursday.

The study also found that the U.S. leads the world in the total number of people who have access to the Internet from their homes.

Two-thirds of all Internet users in Hong Kong access the Web over high-speed connections, far outstripping the number two country, Germany, where 45 per cent of users are on broadband, the Global Internet Trends study for the second quarter of 2002 found. Sweden was third with 43 per cent of users on broadband, followed by the Netherlands at 41 per cent and Spain at 35 per cent. The U.S. lagged behind at 17 per cent.

The disparity in broadband use is determined in large part due to population densities, said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings, which is based in Milpitas, California.

Hong Kong and a number of the European countries ranking high on the list have higher population densities than countries like the U.S. or Australia, making it easier and cheaper for telecommunication companies to offer broadband services, she said.

The larger countries are also affected by the limitations of some broadband technologies: DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), high-speed access over telephone lines, can only be offered within certain distances of telephone company switching equipment, and cable modems often require the rebuilding of cable systems to support the new bandwidth demands, she said.

The data was gathered through a combination of random telephone surveys in Europe and Asia and panellists who agree to let Nielsen//NetRatings track their Internet use in the United States, she said.