The UK now has 5 million broadband subscribers, and 3 million more are expected by the end of 2005.

Telecom Markets' Broadband Subscriber Database analyst Gareth Willmer said: "With some 50,000 new subscribers joining every week, the 5 million barrier was breached in mid-September."

The database shows that out of 3 million DSL subscribers about 40 per cent subscribe to BT directly, but the majority subscribe to a service offered by ISPs that currently buy DSL services from BT.

This is set to change as unbundling, which will reduce the alternative operators dependence on BT, makes an impact in the UK.

Willmer forecasts a third of UK households – 8 million – will subscribe to broadband by the end of 2005. About a tenth of them will subscribe to unbundled DSL.

"In the next year or so subscriptions will rise rapidly owing to falling prices, VoIP launches and increasing competition from alternative broadband carriers. Falling prices of unbundling could be a key driver of an increase in UK broadband subscriber numbers, as has been seen in France," Willmer said.