September 16, 2003 10:28 AM PDT

Broadband adoption skyrockets worldwide

The number of broadband subscribers worldwide surged 72 percent in 2002, to 62 million, as more households upgraded their dial-up modems for speedier access, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU), noted that South Korea leads all nations, with 21 percent of its population subscribing to a broadband service. Out of all Internet users in South Korea, 94 percent subscribe to broadband.

Hong Kong was the second-highest region for broadband adoption, with 15 percent of its population on a high-speed connection. Canada came in third with 11 percent.

The study said that the impetus for growth is greater speed to handle online games and to download digital media. Indeed, the accessibility of broadband has created a widely reported online gaming culture in South Korea.

As for the United States, broadband penetration continues to rise, and could reach 25 percent of the population faster than PCs and mobile phones did, the study said. U.S. broadband providers, namely phone companies providing digital subscriber line (DSL) service and cable companies, have reported steady growth in broadband customers. Some studies have shown healthy demand for broadband despite difficulties in implementing high-speed lines.

A study released by the market research firm Strategy Analytics in June said consumers want broadband not only for faster access, but also for economic reasons. Households are turning to broadband because it's cheaper than paying for two phone lines.


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