FCC: Broadband Subscriptions Up 33 Percent in 2005

U.S. high-speed Internet subscriptions soared 33 percent last year to 50.2 million lines, according to the latest data released by the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

More consumers signed up for digital subscriber line (DSL) service from telephone companies like AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) than cable modem service from companies like Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Time Warner Inc. (TWX).

DSL subscriptions jumped 5.7 million lines versus cable companies adding 4.2 million subscribers in 2005, according to the FCC. The cable industry's market share dropped 3.5 percentage points to 57.5 percent while DSL gained 3.3 percentage points to reach 40.5, the agency said.

DSL is typically less expensive than cable Internet service but offers slower download speeds.

The United States is ranked 12th in the world for broadband subscribers behind countries including Iceland, South Korea and Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's most recent rankings.

U.S. officials have attributed the low ranking to other countries subsidizing the cost and because some of those nations have concentrated population centers that are easier to serve.

An estimated 42 percent of Americans had high-speed Internet access at home in March 2006, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That was up from 30 percent of Americans with high-speed access one year earlier, it said.

U.S. cable and telephone companies are engaged in a fierce battle to offer customers a package of communications services, including voice, data, wireless and subscription television.