More than half of Hong Kong's 2.2 million home Internet users will be surfing the Web on broadband connections within a few months, according to a local research firm. Interactive Audience Measurement Asia (iamasia) says demand for digital subscriber lines (DSL) and cable modems is booming, growing five-fold from a 7 per cent share of the home Internet market last March to 40 per cent one year later. At the current rate of expansion, the number of broadband users will surpass those with slower dial-up connections in the third quarter of this year. Iamasia director Steve Yap said the trend had been fuelled by growing competition among Internet Service Providers (ISPs), lower prices and increased consumer awareness of the benefits of high-speed connections. 'We were pleasantly surprised to see how far up there Hong Kong is [relative to other areas],' he said. 'While all the doom and gloom merchants have been predicting the demise of e-commerce, there has been some significant growth in the Internet infrastructure here.' Mr Yap said that at about US$300 a month, Hong Kong residents were paying some of the lowest rates in the world for high-speed Internet access. He said that as an increasing number of ISPs were offering broadband in Hong Kong, competition would remain fierce. This week China Light & Power launched its Oxygen service. A recent study by United States-based Pyramid Research ranked Korea, Japan and Hong Kong as having made the most progress in broadband expansion in Asia. The study credited competition as being the main factor driving the growth. By comparison to Hong Kong, only 17 per cent of Taiwan's home Internet users have broadband access, according to iamasia. Only a few per cent of Mainland China's Internet users have broadband service. Mr Yap said the growing use of high-speed connections was good news for online companies. He said broadband users spent more time online and viewed more Web pages on average than their counterparts with slower modems. During March, iamasia found that Hong Kong broadband users on average spent just over 21 hours online and viewed 1,643 pages. Dial-up modem users were online an average of 14 hours, 46 minutes and viewed 1,241 pages. 'We attribute this to the richer, more involving Internet experience that broadband connections offer, as well as the fact that broadband subscribers tend to be more sophisticated, heavier Internet users,' Mr Yap said.