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Broadband Britain has suffered a "rough start" and is still lagging behind other comparable countries when it comes to availability of fast Internet access. But these problems are being overcome, at last.

According to Fat Pipes, Connected People , a study conducted by the Work Foundation's iSociety project and Broadband Stakeholder Group, Britain's broadband train, which has long been derailed by the wider confidence slump in the UK technology sector, is back on track.

The year-long study, which was sponsored by Microsoft and PricewaterHouse Coopers, found that more than two-and-a-half million broadband subscribers are signed up currently. It predicts this subscriber base would than double by 2005 - at which time the UK will have overtaken France as the second largest broadband market in Europe.

According to the research, fast Internet access technology is gaining momentum because the supply side of the market - how to run, deliver, and price broadband - is "working well".

The report highlights growing difficulties on the demand side, pointing out that some areas of the country have 100 per cent broadband availability, but it laments the fact that "take-up could be faster".

"Now the industry must turn its attention to this issue and work out how to accelerate take-up further," the study urges.

This surprising conclusion is likely to raise the heckles of the hundreds of thousands of UK punters who desperately want, but are unable to get, broadband because they live outside of the UK's main population centres where the technology is still unavailable.

The Register welcomes the thoughts of this substantial group on whether the supply of broadband in the UK is in fact "working well" or whether it's still a pain in the proverbial.

In addition iSociety found that many punters were being left "confused and angry" about the internet's so-called dark side, which it identifies as spam, spyware, porn, pop-ups and viruses.

Report co-author James Crabtree said: "Broadband is vital for Britain's future, but the industry must put itself in its customers shoes and see how this tide of rubbish is beginning to ruin the experience of going online. Ordinary people are promised that broadband makes the internet better; in fact it sometimes leads to a disaster on the desktop which makes people consider stopping using the net at all." ®

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