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U.S. Broadband Access Nears 40 Million

The figure, toted up by the FCC, measured the number of business and residential users at of the end of 2004.
Some 37.9 million Internet users in the United States now have broadband access, according to a report released by the Federal Communications Commission. The figure toted up by the FCC, which measured the number of users as of the end of 2004; was up 34 percent from the prior year.

The FCC's total encompassed all residential and business users. (In the report, released Friday, high speed was defined as anything over 200 kilobits per second.) Shaving large businesses out of the category left a total of 35.3 million residential and small-business high-speed lines at the end of 2004, up 36 percent from 2003.

On the cable-modem front, the FCC found that high-speed coaxial cable connections rose 30 percent year-over-year to 21.4 million.

DSL didn't fare quite as well as its broadband cousin. During 2004, asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) high-speed lines increased by 45 percent, to 13.8 million lines, the FCC said.

Taking up the rear of the high-speed revolution were satellite and terrestrial wireless connections, which were lumped together in a single category showing a 2004 total of 500,000 connections -- small, but double the number counted in the previous year. Finally, fiber and powerline connections increased by 16 percent to 0.7 million.

The FCC report didn't offer any comparisons of high-speed access with dial up. However, a recent SG Cowen survey cited by The New York Times indicated that some 36 million homes in the United States used dial up. The Cowen report said those dial-up customers comprised about half of all domestic Internet users, which would roughly jibe with the broadband numbers reported by the FCC.