Worldwide broadband internet usage leapt by almost a quarter last year according to a new study.

Ipsos-Insight's annual review, Face of the Web, noted the strongest growth in urban Brazil, France and the UK, with a majority of internet users in the US now using high-speed connections. Narrowband dialup is used by less than a third of all surfers.

Broadband usage in France grew 59%, urban Brazil 50% and the UK 45%, yet all three nations have more narrowband users overall. The US leads in highspeed access and now boasts six out of ten users with broadband connections.

DSL is used by half the planet's broadband browsers although in some places - North America and urban Russia for example - cable is the foremost high-speed system.

Across the high-speed market as a whole, optical fibre access accounts for 5% of worldwide usage, wireless connections for 11%, and cable 28%. Fixed-line access accounts for the largest slice of the pie with 67%.

The report's co-author and senior analyst Nilesh Modi predicts a global decline in fixed-line facilities with more surfers preferring newer technological options: "Consumers will be looking for bundled features to simplify their lives, combining wireless telecom with a cable or fixed-line offering, or combining their VoIP and wireless services."

The study was conducted in October 2004 and based on interviews with 6544 adults, 3304 of whom were active web users, in twelve core global markets: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK, USA, urban Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia.

Data sourced from (UK); additional content by WARC staff