Broadband use explodes, with DSL outpacing cable

Broadband Internet subscriptions soared 33 percent last year to 50.2 million lines, the FCC reported last week.

More consumers signed up for digital subscriber line (DSL) service from telephone companies than for cable modem service. The commission reported that DSL subscriptions jumped 5.7 million lines versus cable companies adding 4.2 million subscribers in 2005.

The cable industry's market share dropped 3.5 percentage points to 57.5 percent while DSL gained 3.3 percentage points to reach 40.5. DSL is typically less expensive than cable broadband service but usually offers slower download speeds.

The United States is ranked 12th in the world for broadband subscribers behind countries including Iceland, South Korea and Japan, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's most recent rankings.

U.S. officials have attributed the low ranking to other countries subsidizing the cost and because some of those nations have concentrated population centers that are easier to serve, Reuters reported.