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The U.K. has overtaken France to become Europe’s biggest broadband nation.

According to research from Internet consultancy PointTopic, the U.K. now has 9.8 million broadband homes, with 9.7 million in France and 9.1 million in Germany.

Nearly 3.6 million British homes signed up for broadband Internet access during 2005.

This rapid growth is the result of “local loop unbundling,” in which dominant national telco BT was forced by regulators to open up the broadband market to competitors. The U.K. now has over 100 broadband suppliers, and prices have tumbled dramatically.

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