UK telecoms giant BT is expecting to sign up its five millionth British broadband internet customer this week.

The numbers of users opting for high speed online access has exceeded BT's own forecasts by a year and reports suggest half of all users will be accessing the internet through broadband by the end of 2005.

BT dominates the British broadband market with around 35% share. Its latest figures, from December, show the company had 1.5m direct customers.

It claims the UK broadband market is the most competitive in the world with 200 companies offering services. Lower prices are driving sign-up rates as costs for high speed connection are now largely on a par with dial-up access.

Last year BT reduced the cost of getting access to its exchanges so rivals can offer cheaper fast net services.

Says BT ceo Ben Verwaayen: "The momentum of broadband is continuing to build. Now the focus needs to move from broadband availability towards the ways in which broadband can improve people's lives. At work through greater productivity, and at home by delivering a whole range of new services."

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff