Half of the televisions in the world will be able to receive digital broadcast by the year 2013, with China taking the crown as the biggest viewer of digital transmissions inside five years.

According to the latest forecast by Informa Telecoms and Media, an estimated 636 million households will be receiving digital signals with China the major growth area, and India also gaining.

The United States' 77 per cent penetration marks it out as the leader in terms of coverage, with Western Europe at 63 per cent.

Accelerate

Simon Murray, author of the report, said: "This indicates that digital growth will accelerate as the decade progresses, especially outside North America and Western Europe.

"More than 293 million digital homes will be added between end-2008 and end-2013."

The UK's digital switchover, where the analogue signal will be switched off, started in Whitehaven back in 2007, but will continue to roll out across the various television regions until 2012.

Cable television is currently the most common form of digital television on the planet, some way ahead of Digital Terrestrial Television (the UK's most common digital source) in second place.