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More than half the UK adult population now has broadband internet access at home, according to data released today by communications regulator Ofcom.

The watchdog's annual broadband market report said 13 million homes and small businesses are now hooked up, compared to 9.9 million a year ago, in a racket which netted ISPs revenues of £1.84bn. Figures from the European Commission last week showed that the UK was second only to the Netherlands for home broadband penetration.

In February 2007, 1.7 million BT lines had been unbundled in local exchanges, accounting for 10 per cent of all connections, up from two per cent in 2006. Ofcom said the competition it had fostered was continuing to push prices down, and speeds up. It clocked the average estimated speed at 3.8 Mbit/s at the end of 2006 compared to 1.6 Mbit/s at the close of 2005.

Chief executive Ed Richards said: "Consumers are responding positively to the competition and innovation that the UK market now offers."

The move towards bundled services offered by a few big players, which has seen Virgin Media and BSkyB begin a bitter feud, looks to have won favour with punters. Twenty-seven per cent said they were most interested in other services on offer when choosing an ISP, the same proportion who put price at the top of their list.

Separate research out today from Motorola said consumers across Europe see broadband as the most important component of a triple or quad-play bundle, ahead of TV and home phone services. Mobile phone services came bottom of the bundle wish-list, which is good news for BSkyB in its battle with Virgin Media. The Murdoch-owned group is yet to announce any plans to add mobile to its See, Surf, Speak bundle.

Ofcom's report is here (pdf). ®

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