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Pace Of Broadband Adoption Quickens

The number of high-speed Internet subscribers in the U.S. is expected to surpass the number of dial-up subscribers by late 2006, a market research firm said Monday.

The pace of broadband adoption is quicker than previously estimated because the number of DSL subscribers this year is forecast to be nearly 4 million more than previously estimated, The Yankee Group said. The increase in adoption rate was due to low pricing, faster speeds and increased availability.

As of the end of the first quarter this year, cable operator Comcast Corp. had the most subscribers among broadband service providers with almost 5.7 million. SBC Communications Inc. led DSL providers with just under 4 million subscribers.

About 95 percent of cable modem users are residential customers, while 15 percent to 20 percent of DSL subscribers are small business customers, the research firm said.

The forecasts are predicated on broadband and content providers offering additional services over the network that attract more customers. Those services would include voice communications, games, photos and video, Yankee analyst Patrick Mahoney said. The research firm estimates there will be more than 52 million broadband households by the end of 2008.