Sixty-four million people now have broadband access across the 25 countries of the European Union – but the gap between the best and worst performers is widening (see Figure 1). Denmark, the Netherlands, and Finland lead the European Union in broadband penetration while Greece, Slovakia, and Poland trail according to a recent broadband survey by ECTA. Back in the US, broadband penetration among active Internet users neared 75% in August 2006.
Podcasting is taking off, according to recent data from Nielsen//NetRatings and Apple. Unique users of Apple’s iTunes player passed QuickTime in mid-2005, and at current growth rates iTunes should pass RealPlayer by mid-2006. People are tuning in over twice as long with iTunes than with RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. US broadband penetration jumped 1.33 percentage points in February 2006 to 68% among active Internet users. At current growth rates broadband penetration should break 70% in April of 2006.
At its current growth rate of over 90% per year, China will pass the US in total broadband subscribers by late 2006 to become the largest broadband country in the world. The US has fallen to 19th overall in household broadband penetration, and is in danger of being passed by Slovenia in early 2007. Israel leads all Middle Eastern and African countries, and is the third country overall in broadband penetration. Hong Kong leads the Pacific Rim, with a broadband penetration rate of over 73%. Meanwhile, in December 2005 the US passed 65% in broadband penetration among active Internet users.