Study: East Will Fuel Europe's Internet Growth

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The number of Internet users in Europe will reach 196.2 million by the end of the year, an increase of 20.5 million from 2002, according to eMarketer's new report, "Europe Online: Access, Demographics & Usage."


Though Western European countries have larger bases of users, much of the growth is coming from Eastern Europe. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Wilkofsky Gruen Associates predict the number of Internet users in Eastern Europe will grow from 41.2 million in 2003 to 62 million in 2006.


"In Western Europe, growth rates seem to be slowing, calling into question whether we'll ever see as high a penetration there as we see in the U.S.," eMarketer senior analyst Ross Rubin said. "Still, 83 percent of Internet users report going online at least once a week."


Key findings from the Europe Online report include:


· Spending on Internet access will rise by a compound annual growth rate of 6.8 percent in Western Europe from 2002 to 2006, compared with 18.1 percent in Eastern Europe.


· 85 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds in the European Union use the Internet, compared with 21 percent of those 55 and older.


· Italy leads Europe in mobile-phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants (83.9), nearly doubling Europe's average (43.8).


· The Netherlands and Sweden lead Europe in broadband penetration at more than 11 percent, followed by Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. DSL continues to far outpace cable penetration.


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