A 38% global rise in digital subscriber line (DSL) use was led by soaring Indian subscriber growth in the 12 months ended 30 June, according to research.

While India had the fastest growth, China remained the world's largest DSL market, according to the DSL Forum. On Tuesday, the group released results from a study conducted by research company Point Topic. During the period, almost 46 million more subscribers signed up for DSL, the group said.

India's DSL market grew from fewer than 250,000 subscribers in June 2005 to more than 1.5 million a year later, according to the group. DSL use also boomed in Vietnam (up 147%), the Czech Republic (143%), Morocco (141%) and Russia (130%).

China gained almost 12 million users to reach 33 million in June 2006. It became the world's largest DSL market in 2004, said DSL Forum spokeswoman Carol Friend. Still, fewer than 3% of China's phone lines are being used for DSL.

In the US, the second-largest market, DSL subscribers went up 6.36 million to more than 23 million. The growth surpassed that of cable Internet access, which gained 5.45 million users, according to the group. In the US and Canada, DSL gained market share and is now the choice of more than 46% of the broadband subscribers, DSL Forum said.

However, the U.S. comes in number 33 for the penetration of DSL among all phone lines, Friend said. Only 8 percent of the country's lines have DSL. Finland leads the world in DSL penetration, with nearly 40%, followed by France with almost 33%.

DSL penetration made big strides in France and the UK as speeds increased while prices remained about the same, she said. Penetration in the UK is now almost 25%.

DSL subscriptions grew 45% in Europe, which now has 56 million DSL subscribers, more than any other region. Europe is home to 35% of the world's total, followed by Asia-Pacific with 18% and North America with 16%.