The Department of Trade and Industry yesterday announced Britain had reached a major landmark in broadband rollout, with one million users now signed up.
Despite continual complaints from ISPs and users about BT’s slow delivery of ADSL services, the number of broadband subscribers has trebled since the beginning of this year, with around 20,000 additional homes and businesses being connected each week.
“This is great news for the UK. Today’s figures show that people are beginning to really appreciate the benefits of broadband,” said Stephen Timms, E-commerce Minister.
These figures mean that 63 per cent of the UK population has access to broadband services, with the majority opting for a cable connection instead of ADSL.
But in Europe ADSL is winning hands down as the preferred method of connection, which could perhaps be blamed on BT dragging its heels over creating ADSL-enabled exchanges in the UK. A PC Advisor poll showed 51 per cent of users would opt for cable in preference to ADSL.
BT’s registration database, which allows users to express their interest in ADSL services, has so far led to just one exchange being upgraded. Despite this slow rollout, data released at the end of last month by internet analyst Forrester Research put the UK second behind Germany for its delivery of broadband services. “It took five years for the UK to see a million people using mobile phones. At this pace, the UK is well on its way to being the most extensive and competitive market for broadband in the world,” said David Edmond, director general of telecommunications at Oftel. But while broadband is the focus of much marketing money at the moment, Oftel stressed that narrowband users should not be forgotten. “Although we are focusing on broadband, which will eventually take over from narrowband, it’s important to remember a large portion of the UK is still connected to these dialup services,” said an Oftel spokesperson.