Telcos' new high-speed Internet hookups exceeded new high-speed cable modem sign-ups for the first time in FCC memory, although cable still leads in total lines by a wide margin.
That's according to a new biannual FCC report, which also found that total high-speed connections to the Internet were up 33% over 2005 to 50.2 million.
Broadband deployment growth in the second half of 2005 was at a rate of 18% (from 42.4 million), which was up from a 12% growth rate for the first half of 2005 (from 37.9 million at the end of 2004). The yearly growth rate of 33% was about on par with 2004's 34%.
High-speed DSL hook-ups increased by 5.7 million vs. only 4.2 million for cable modem service in 2005, with more DSL hook-ups in the second half of the year vs. the first, but actually fewer cable hookups in the last six months than in the first six.
But cable still had the most market share, with 57.5% of those 50.2 million lines (almost 29 million) vs. DSL's share of 40.5% (about 20 million).
The broadband hookup measurement is used to gauge the success of government policy and industry efforts to build out the country's advanced communications network.
The speed, or lack of it, of the rollout of broadband has been a driving force behind government efforts to streamline the video franchise process for telcos like Verizon and AT&T. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said speeding rollout is a priority, but he also has argued that broadband deployment is advancing under the FCC's watch.
According to the study, 78% of local phone customers had access to high-speed DSL, while 93% of cable customers could get high-speed modem service.