Broadband penetration hits 500M milestone

Broadband subscription has reached an impressive milestone, with over 500 million lines now active.

The half-billion mark was actually reached back in July, but industry group Broadband Forum has kept the news quiet until its annual meeting in Hong Kong today.

The figures mean that one in five households across the globe now has access to its own broadband Internet connection, demonstrating - according to Broadband Forum's chief executive Robin Mersh - "the critical importance of broadband in our daily lives, both for business and leisure."

Mersh went on to say that "today is a day to celebrate, but we continue to work towards strategic broadband evolution goals and our work on IPv6 and helping service providers to support its integration is part of our role in anticipating and solving the issues before they arise."

The actual figures, gathered by research house Point Topic, show an 11.99 per cent growth of broadband penetration in the lead-up to the end of the second quarter of this year, or a 2.63 per cent growth in the quarter.

The growth wasn't exactly evenly spread out, however - China represented the majority of new lines, itself solely responsible for 43 per cent of all new broadband lines added during the second quarter. The UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and Turkey all saw stronger broadband growth than the same period last year, while the USA and Canada saw growth take a significant hit - in Canada's case, to a level not seen in the past decade.

This poor showing in North America has been blamed by Point Topic's chief executive Oliver Johnson on "the end of housing stimulus packages," coupled with a generally cool economic climate.

With new fibre-optic broadband offerings just around the corner - including BT's promise to upgrade its ADSL customers to BT Infinity for free - it shouldn't take long to hit the next big milestone.