Nine out of 10 internet users in the UK now use broadband services, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

In September, 88.4 per cent of Britons chose to use broadband connections rather than dial-up services (compared to 86.2 per cent back in June). Half of those (49.2 per cent) opted for broadband speeds faster than 2Mbps. Only 4 per cent said they used broadband connections faster than 8Mbps.

Broadband as a utility

These figures show how far UK web users have come in just a few years - in 2003 the case was almost the opposite. Only 17 per cent had broadband in April 2003, with 81 per cent using dial-up services, according to the ONS report. Since, higher-speed services have become more widely available and more affordable for users.

Despite the meteoric rise in broadband connections, analysts Point Topic said that the market is cooling off. Potential users have been put off by reported problems in getting a broadband connection up and running, and confused by the gap between promised and actual broadband speeds.

With fewer dial-up users around to convince about moving on to broadband connections, the end could be near for smaller broadband firms.

However, there are still pockets of anti-Internet resistance - around 10 million Britons don't have dial-up or broadband access at home. And they're proving difficult to convert.

"With almost 40 per cent of British households on the wrong side of the digital divide, the social and economic progress of the UK will be stalled unless the great majority of these homes can be brought on to the internet," Tim Johnson, chief analyst at Point Topic, said in a statement.