Internet Usage Up in UK

The Internet is attracting 10,900 new adult users in the UK every day, according to NOP Research Group. Some 10.6 million adults accessed the Internet at least once during 1998, NOP reports, a 48 percent increase compared with 1997.

This increase is due in part to providers of free internet access.

“These findings suggest that Internet usage in Britain has undergone spectacular growth in recent months,” said NOPs Rob Lawson. “One of the principal factors explaining this was the introduction of Freeserve in the last quarter of 1998, which has given the company somewhere in the region of one-fifth of the market overnight. However, even removing this from the equation, overall growth was still strong during the six months to December 1998.”

Perhaps most significantly, the free service providers are also attracting a new type of Internet user, generally older and less wealthy.

The location of Internet access has shifted significantly during the past year, according to NOP. In December of 1998, some 6 million people accessed the Net from home, compared with only 3.4 million in December of 1997, an increase of 76 percent. In contrast, the proportion of those accessing the Internet from work increased by only 54 percent over the same period, from 3.5 to 5.3 million.

Web usage increased considerably during the six months leading up to December 1998, with almost three-quarters (73 percent) of Internet users saying they had used the Web during the previous four weeks. This compares with just 60 percent in the six months before June 1998.

NOP also reports that Web usage is also starting to demonstrate seasonal patterns. The Web was used, on average, almost seven times by each user during the previous four weeks in both December 1997 and 1998, compared with just over five times in both June 1997 and June 1998.

In the past four weeks, some 1.2 million people have used the Web to search for a job and more than 1.9 million people have used it to look for travel information over the same time period. Other purposes include searching for information on a company (2.9 million), reading newspapers online (1.9 million), and searching for financial information (1.3 million).

NOP’s findings also revealed that 1.3 million users shopped online in the second half of 1998, making a total of some 4.8 million purchases.

“With users becoming more familiar with the Web as a primary source of information their confidence in using it for an increasingly complex range of activities is also growing,” Lawson said.

NOP’s research was based on a screening of 21,000 households in Great Britain, which was following up with telephone interviews in December 1998 among a representative sample of 1,000 Internet users age 15 years and older.

March 4, 1999

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