FCC: High-Speed-Data Lines Up 18%

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Broadband adoption continued to grow in the first half of 2003 as the number of U.S. homes and business with high-speed-data connections grew by 18% to 23.5 million lines, according to a Federal Communications Commission report released Monday.

The FCC found that for the full year -- from June 30, 2002 through June 30, 2003 -- total broadband connections jumped by 45%. However, the 18% gain for the first half of 2003 was not as robust as the 23% gain in the last two quarters of 2002.

The FCC defined "high-speed" as 200 kilobits per second in one direction and "advanced service" as 200 kbps in both directions. By comparison, dial-up phone lines run data at 56 kbps.

Comcast Corp., the leading broadband provider in the United States, recently announced plans to raise download speeds to 3 megabits per second.

Of the 23.5 million broadband lines in service, 20.5 million, or 87%, were connected to homes and small businesses, and 16.3 million, or 70%, were classified as advanced service lines. The FCC said 14.3 million of 16.3 million advance service lines served homes and small businesses.

The FCC said cable ended the first half of 2003 with 13.7 million data customers, up 49% for the year. Phone companies and other providers of digital-subscriber-line service claimed 7.7 million customer connections during the first half, a 50% gain for the 12-month period.

Last week, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs said he expected cable companies to conclude 2003 with 16 million high-speed-data subscribers.

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