WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of American consumers and businesses
that subscribe to high-speed Internet service, or broadband, jumped
38 percent in the year ended June 30, 2004, according to new statistics
released on Wednesday.
About 32.5 million broadband lines connected homes and businesses
to the Internet, up from 23.5 million at the end of June 2003,
the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (news
sites) said in its semi-annual report of the latest statistics.
In the six months ended June 30, the number of broadband lines
rose 15 percent while during the previous six months the number
of lines rose 20 percent, the agency said.
Broadband is becoming more widely used as consumers want faster
access to the Internet, for research, shopping, watching movies
and downloading music. President Bush (news
sites) pledged during his 2004 re-election bid to ensure there
would be universal access to broadband by 2007.
Even with the penetration rate increasing, the United States
continues to fall behind other countries in the rankings for broadband
subscribers, falling to 13th in the most recent rankings by the
International Telecommunications Union.
The FCC (news
sites) has argued that many Americans have broadband at work
and thus are less likely to subscribe at home. Further, agency
officials have said that some countries higher in the rankings
have subsidized deployment and are more densely populated.
Consumers subscribing to broadband via digital subscriber lines,
or DSL, typically provided by telephone companies, rose 3.7 million,
or almost 49 percent, to 11.4 million lines in the year ended
in June, the FCC said.
In comparison, the number of broadband lines via cable modems
jumped 4.9 million to 18.6 million lines, up 36 percent year over
year, according to the agency.
Separately, the FCC also said that about 32 million customers
received their local telephone service from a company other than
the major U.S. local telephone carriers in the year ended June
2004, up 19 percent over the previous year.
The FCC last week relaxed rules that had required the dominant
local telephone carriers to lease parts of their networks to competitors
at steep discounts so they could offer their own residential local
In anticipation of the rule changes, one big competitor, AT&T
- news), has stopped
marketing its local and long-distance residential service via
traditional telephone lines and is now focusing on offering service