Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Rise in broadband use in Europe

Computer user
A gender gap is emerging as computer users become older

A total of 42% of households in the EU now have a broadband connection, according to an official survey.

That represents a 12 percentage point rise on the figure for 2006.

The survey, carried out by national statistics offices across Europe, also appears to confirm a gender gap in use of the internet as people become older.

Almost one-third of men over the age of 55 use the internet at least once a week while the figure for women is less than one-fifth.

Web access

What is clear from the statistics is that internet access is gradually extending across the 27 states of the European Union.

Internet access graph

During the first three months of 2007, 54% of households had an internet connection, up from 49% in 2006.

But, as the graph makes clear, the proportion of households with web access varies from 19% in Bulgaria to 83% in the Netherlands.

Internet access in the UK has risen by four percentage points to 67% and broadband connections have increased sharply from 44% to 57%.

A total of 150,000 households took part in the survey across the EU, with the exception of Malta.

Online chat

The survey also gives details of the extent of people's web skills.

While half of users had sent emails with attachments, around a quarter said they had been involved in online discussions, chatrooms or newsgroups.

Generation gap graph

Fifteen per cent had used the internet for phone calls and one in ten had created their own web page.

The figures confirm that the younger you are, the more likely you are to spend time on the internet.

As the graph makes clear, people over the age of 55 are the lowest web-users and women are well behind men.

Although only 19% of women aged between 55 and 74 access the internet more than once a week, that figure has almost doubled in the past three years.

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