UK ranked seventh globally for broadband penetration

Five countries have broadband penetration over 60 per cent, and the UK isn't one of them, according to a global broadband report by analyst firm Gartner.

But the UK does rank seventh worldwide, with about 58 per cent of households having broadband connections, alongside France and Sweden.

The top five countries were South Korea with 93 per cent, Hong Kong with 76 per cent, the Netherlands with 74 per cent, Switzerland with 69 per cent and Canada with 65 per cent. Taiwan falls just short of the mark, with 59 per cent.

After the UK comes Singapore at 57 per cent, Belgium at 55 per cent and Japan, Spain and the US at 54 per cent.

Gartner predicted that by 2012, some 17 countries would have over 60 per cent of households with broadband connections. But Gartner warned that the digital divide between the top mature markets and emerging markets will widen by 13 percentage points.

"Depending on the specific market conditions, availability of internet-enabled devices and the continued impact of broadband on consumer lifestyles, we expect some markets will have a broadband ceiling at 80 per cent penetration or greater," said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner.

"Consumers in heavily penetrated markets are already addicted to broadband, thus the future in these markets is less concerned with increasing subscriber numbers, and more with addressing what new applications and/or content will be transmitted over this pipe," Sabia said.

Gartner said the top countries such as South Korea were often more densely populated or had government investment in broadband infrastructure.

BT recently announced it would invest 1.5 billion in new fibre networks, but called on the government and other firms to help.