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Europeans Reveal Growing Affinity for Internet

More and more European homes are going online. More than half of European households have Internet access. The number with hi-speed broadband connections have risen sharply, according to EU statistical agency Eurostat.

Illuminated Internet sign

Despite their love for cafes, more and more Dutch are going online at home

Some 54 percent of homes in the European Union's 27 nations now have access to the World Wide Web, compared to 49 percent in the first quarter of 2006. The number of broadband connections has rocketed from 30 percent to 42 percent.

The survey shows one in two people use an Internet search engine, while 15 percent make voice-over-Internet calls and 13 percent use peer-to-peer file sharing software for movies and music.

But Internet use varies widely across Europe. The Dutch are the most wired up. Here four out of five homes are online. The Netherlands also leads the way in terms of broadband usage.

Dutch top the league, while Bulgaria brings up the rear

Skype logo

The four-year-old Estonian company is the young democracy's hottest calling card

New EU member Bulgaria lags far behind. Only one in five households here have Internet access.

The French, however, are the European nation keenest when it comes to making calls online. They are followed by the Internet savvy Estonians, who spawned the company Skype.

Nearly a quarter of people in the Netherlands Dutch and Luxembourg use the net to download music and movies, only 6 percent of Czechs and Irish do so.

The European Commission blames governments for the wide variation in the price and technology available to customers in the various member states, accusing them of not doing enough to open up the market. It says former state telecoms monopolies should be exposed to more competition that would lower prices.

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