Just over half of households in the 25 countries of the European Union now have access to the internet, as do all but six per cent of businesses with 10 people or more, according to figures from the Statistical Office of the European Communities.
The research found that a third of European households and three quarters of businesses have a broadband connection.
In the UK, 63 per cent of households and 92 per cent of businesses have internet access, and broadband connections are used by 44 per cent of UK households and 77 per cent of UK firms.
The highest proportions of households with internet access were in The Netherlands (80 per cent), Denmark (79 per cent), Sweden (77 per cent) and Luxembourg (70 per cent).
The lowest levels were in Greece (23 per cent), Slovakia (27 per cent), Hungary (32 per cent), Lithuania (35 per cent) and Portugal (35 per cent).
Businesses show a much more even coverage. The highest proportions of enterprises with internet access were in Finland (99 per cent), Denmark (98 per cent) Austria (98 per cent) and The Netherlands (97 per cent).
Only in Latvia (80 per cent), Cyprus (86 per cent), Lithuania (88 per cent) and Poland (89 per cent) were there fewer than 90 per cent of firms connected to the internet.
The proportion of households with a broadband connection in 2006 was highest in The Netherlands (66 per cent), Denmark (63 per cent), Finland (53 per cent) and Sweden (51 per cent), and lowest in Greece (four per cent), Slovakia (11 per cent), Cyprus (12 per cent) and Ireland (13 per cent).
Among enterprises the highest levels of broadband connections were recorded in Sweden (89 per cent), Finland (89 per cent), Spain (87 per cent) and France (86 per cent), and the lowest in Poland (46 per cent), Cyprus (55 per cent), Lithuania (57 per cent) and Latvia (59 per cent).
While nearly three quarters of individuals in the European Union aged 16 to 24 (73 per cent), and more than half of those aged 25 to 54 (54 per cent), used the internet regularly, only a fifth of those aged 55 to 74 did so.
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