Broadband Subscriptions Soar 33%

By the end of last year, there were 50.2 million U.S. homes and businesses connecting online via broadband--marking a 33 percent increase from 2004, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission.

Cable modems still accounted for the majority of broadband lines--about 51 percent, as of Dec. 31, 2005--while DSL lines accounted for about 41 percent. But the agency also reported that for the first time since it began collecting data, the growth of DSL lines outpaced that of cable modems. Other types of connections included optical carrier, satellite, wireless, and electric power lines.

The agency also reported that almost everyone has access to at least one broadband provider, and that 99 percent of the U.S. population lives in 99 percent of the ZIP codes that have one high-speed access provider. The FCC defines broadband as a speed greater than 200 kbps in at least one direction.

A study issued earlier this year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project also reported a surge in broadband use. Pew found that 84 million Americans connected at home via broadband in March--up 40 percent from 60 million one year ago.

Nielsen//NetRatings issued an even more bullish report last month. The research firm found that 72 percent of Web users now connect from high-speed lines--up from 57 percent one year ago.