The growth of global Internet usage is set to slow unless transport providers can offer speedier access, according to a report published by research group Mori.
Users are frustrated by the "World Wide Wait", the report claimed, as well as the cost of Internet access and the security issues involved.
Another barrier that users encountered was lack of time, with the report claiming that "the Net is still seen as a diversion rather than a serious medium by many users and potential users".
The Global Internet Usage and Attitudes Report interviewed 2,045 Internet users over the age of 18 in 12 countries, including the US. Nearly 10% of respondents were in the UK.
Mori predicts that roughly 180-200 million people will use the Web by 2000 and that the growth will come from outside the US and Western Europe.
It revealed that consumer spending is just a fraction of the Internet economy, stating that consumers last year spent $2.4 billion (#1.5 billion) but predicted this would grow to $17.4 billion (#10.5 billion) by 2001.
The report also revealed that the Dutch are the most active online shoppers and that "nearly two in 10 (Dutch people) have purchased computer products, books and/or music online". In the UK, 14% of users interviewed had bought something over the Web.
Despite the overall slowing down of Internet growth, Internet communities are still very much on the increase, according to the report. It cited successful examples of Internet communities as the online bookseller Amazon and the family-oriented, Parentsoup.
"The Internet community is a growth area which has really taken off, whereas in other areas people are showing less interest," commented Mori's associate director Jane Robinson.
The report showed respondents in all the countries interviewed expressed an interest in community groups, with France being the highest at 81%, compared to 72% of UK users who are interested.
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