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The UK was home to almost 20 million broadband connections at the end of the first quarter of the year, it has been reported.

Communications regulator Ofcom reported there were 19.92 million fixed line broadband customers on March 31st 2011.

This represented a rise of 340,000 on the 19.58 million connections reported in quarter four 2010, reports

However, a slower increase in broadband deal subscriptions was recorded between Q4 2010 and Q1 2011 than between the third and fourth quarters last year.

Some 459,000 new connections were added between September and December 2010, as broadband adoption rates continued to increase.

Broadband provider BT increased its share of the market from 27.5 per cent to 27.8 per cent during the first three months of 2011.

The firm had 5.54 million connections at the end of March, compared to 5.39 million at the turn of the year.

Other DSL-based broadband providers – excluding local loop unbundling – accounted for 2.51 million, up from 2.55 million.

Where local loop unbundling is in operation, DSL broadband providers increased the number of connections from 7.62 million to 7.79 million.

Finally, Virgin Media's cable network delivered broadband services to 4.08 million connections in Q1 2011, up from 4.03 million in Q4 2010.

As the government's £530 million rural broadband fund begins to take effect, the number of UK residential and business broadband connections could well increase.

The Con-Lib coalition has distributed funding among county councils across the UK, in a bid to deliver broadband coverage to remote parts of the countryside.

Under government plans, every UK community should have access to 2Mb broadband by 2015, meaning more homes and businesses should be able to sign up for fixed-line services.

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