Healthy Growth in Internet Access Reported in U.K.

Reports from NetValue and Durlacher on the size of the U.K. Internet market do not agree on much, except for the fact that Internet users and usage are increasing at healthy levels.

According to NetValue, more than 9 million U.K. households are now connected to the Internet, accounting for 37.2 percent of all households. Nearly 1.5 million of these households went online in the last six months, while more than one-quarter first connected to the Internet within the past year.

The average connected U.K. household had 1.41 active Internet users in March 2001, putting the Internet population in Britain at 12,776,000, surpassing the 12 million mark for the first time since NetValue began tracking. U.K. users are also connecting more often. On average they connected for 10.5 days in March for a total of 24 sessions (2.3 sessions per day), the highest ever recorded by NetValue.

Just under 5 million women in Britain used the Internet in March 2001, with nearly three-quarters (74.4 percent) of them visting an e-commerce site in the month, up from 69.7 percent in February.

The year 2000 saw record growth in residential adoption of the Internet, according to research by Durlacher, which found 25 percent of homes in Britain are on the Internet, up from 17 percent in 1999. Durlacher predicts Internet penetration to reach 35 percent by the end of 2001.

Durlacher’s research is based on 3,750 interviews, and it also examined the growth of e-commerce in Britain. Nearly half of the Internet users in Britain have shopped online, with average spending rising 76 percent. Satisfaction with online shopping also remains high, with only 4 percent of shoppers indicating any level of dissatisfaction with their most recent online purchase. Eighty-three percent expressed complete satisfaction.

Britain has also seen high adoption rates for digital television, which has risen from 1 percent in 1998 to 9 percent in 1999 to 25 percent in 2000.

Durlacher senior analyst Nick Gibson said the hard times facing the technology and Internet sectors have not diminished the appeal of the Internet to existing and potential users.

“Internet users tend to be highly fickle. The failure of one Web site or service simply means the adoption of another service,” Gibson said. “Thus, the natural consolidation process has had no effect on the uptake of Internet access. In fact, more users are being forced to revert to stronger services, which may go some way towards explaining why this rate is accelerating.”

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