Five million UK households will be connected to the Internet by January next year, according to a report published today.
In the last 18 months, the proportion of UK homes connected to the Internet increased from five per cent to 17 per cent, according to a report by Continental Research. The report predicts the number will hit 20 per cent, or five million homes, by January 2000.
The launch of free ISPs, such as Dixons' Freeserve and The Sun's Currantbun, has been a key contributor to growth, according to the London based researcher.
"Chief contributors to growth are the introduction of free access services such as Freeserve alongside the recent Christmas and January sales periods," said Colin Shaddick, director of Continental Research.
"Over the next six months, estimated take up of home Internet access will jump by nearly 800,000 to bring the total to just under five million households. A further 750,000 individuals will get connected at work, school or college," he said.
The number of individuals with Internet access from any location, whether home or work, has grown to 17.2 million people or 37 per cent of the population. The number of adult (over 15 years old) home users has grown significantly over this period to 22 per cent.
There is a huge opportunity for ecommerce providers, the report says, as 40 per cent of connected homes are social class AB, blue chip professionals.
"These are affluent households, they are more lucrative but traditionally difficult to access. They don't watch mainstream television so have to be targeted through specialist magazines. But as the Internet has an AB bias there is a huge opportunity for online merchants to get them through banner advertisements," explained Shaddick.
Another driver to home Internet use is the increasing amount of education establishments having Internet connected PCs. According to the research 83 per cent of full time students aged 15 and over have Internet access, almost twice the amount of those working full time.
Initially people who got Internet access at work were the first to feel confident enough to go online at home, explained Shaddick, but this is now changing as school children get hooked and then persuade their parents to get access.
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