Three northern European countries show the world's highest broadband penetration rates, with Denmark leading the pack, according to statistics released Friday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Denmark had a broadband penetration rate of 29.3 subscribers per 100 inhabitants, followed by the Netherlands with 28.8 and Iceland with 27.3.

The number of broadband subscribers in OECD increased 33 percent to 181 million in June 2006 from 136 million in same period the year before. The penetration rate also increased to 15.5 from 11.7.

Long-time leader South Korea dropped to fourth place with a penetration rate of 13.2. While the country appears to have reached its saturation point, it and Japan are moving rapidly to the next step – FTTP (fibre to the premise), the OECD said.

Japan leads in FTTP connections with 6.3 million subscribers, outnumbering total broadband subscribers in 22 of the 30 OECD countries.

In Denmark, too, power companies are rolling out fibre to consumers as part of a programme to bury overhead power lines. Several network operators in Europe have begun to deploy FTTP, in addition to municipal broadband projects that are expanding across the Continent.

The US, with a penetration rate of eight subscribers per 100 population, has the largest number of broadband users at around 57 million, representing 36 percent of all broadband connections in the OECD, up from 31 percent in December 2005.

Greece was ranked at the bottom of the OECD list, with a penetration rate of 2.7 and a total number of users under 299,000.

The most used broadband technology in the period reviewed by the OECD was DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) at 63 percent, followed by cable at 29 percent. Other technologies, including satellite, fibre and fixed wireless, accounted for 8 percent.