Europe's Internet Usage Spikes, Survey Says

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New flat-fee rates for Internet service in Europe have caused a spike in usage, according to reports.

Between June 2000 and February, time spent at home on the Internet tripled in France and Spain and nearly doubled in Britain, said Jupiter MMXI, London, which released its Internet usage study yesterday.

In Germany, Internet time increased 226 percent. The country leads Europe in monthly average time spent online with 13 hours per unique visitor. Spain and Norway trailed at an average of nine hours online per month, Italy and Denmark were at eight hours per month, and Britain and France were at seven hours.

"The tremendous growth of time spent online by European consumers, together with a steady increase in the number of Internet users, confirms that the Internet itself is not affected by the current financial issues some dot-coms are facing," said Staffan Engdegard, advertising analyst at Jupiter MMXI.

"The softening Internet advertising market is primarily a result of the financial reality catching up with dot-coms' extravagant spending," Engdegard said. "It's now up to the sellers of Internet advertising to show traditional advertisers the most efficient and effective ways of reaching the growing Internet audience."

The survey also studied Web destinations and found that portals were the most popular sites, with 85 percent of Internet users visiting sites such as Yahoo and America Online. Sixty-two percent of respondents visited corporate sites. Retail sites were also popular, with a 46 percent reach in Europe.

One in three Europeans using the Internet said they visited business and finance sites.

Reports attributed much of the increase to new rate structures. Traditionally, European Internet service providers offered free service and took a percentage of the per-minute fees that telephone companies charged people. Last year, companies began offering flat-fee packages that covered usage fees.

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