Report: UK Net Usage Surging

More than half of the roughly 46 million adults in the UK have Web access and nearly a third of them are frequent online users, according to new data released Wednesday by ForresterResearch.

As part of its semi-annual Internet User Monitor, the research firm alsofound that the Web’s gender gap in the UK is narrowing. While online usage in UKhas traditionally been characterized by a “male gender bias,” Forrester saidthe inequity has “eroded” rapidly, with women accounting for about 46 percentof all British Internet users.

“The UK Internet is no longer a hobby for a sophisticated, wealthy andeducated male elite,” said Forrester European data products director WilliamReeve. Instead, he said, the Net “has become a truly mass information,communications and entertainment medium.”

Older Surfers

In addition to commenting on the increase in female Web users, the research firm said that there has been a significant increase in Internet usage growth among blue-collar andmanual workers in the UK.

Forrester’s report also pointed to theupward trend in the average age of those online — from 33 years old in the secondquarter of 1998 to 37 years old in the final quarter of 2000 — as evidence of theshift toward mainstream Web usage.

Research Tool

Forrester also looked at the way the Internet is being used in the UK, finding that an overwhelming number of those surveyed reported that theyoften rely on the Internet as a powerful research tool. For example, 91percent said they have investigated goods or services online.

Additionally, almost half said they have looked at financial products on theWeb, while a third have attempted to track down a new job.

Forrester also found that British Net users are increasingly likely to makeonline purchases, with 48 percent of the respondents saying they wouldconduct Web-based transactions. By comparison, during the second quarter ofthis year, only 38 percent said they would be inclined to do so.

Although women are taking to the Net at a rapid rate in the UK, only 39percent of female respondents said they had purchased items online. Thatnumber climbed to 61 percent among the men surveyed.

Home Usage

Forrester’s data also found that home users are driving the surgein Internet growth.

“Around half of UK adults have a PC in the home, and the proportion of usersfilling in the survey from home rather than work has grown from 50 percent in thesecond quarter of 1998 to 75 percent in the fourth quarter of 2000,” said Reeve.

Reeve added that the rise in home usage can be attributed to the spread ofe-mail as a communication channel, the groundswell of free Internet serviceproviders, and free or reduced-rate call packages.

To compile the statistics, Forrester surveyed over 75,000 Internet usersin the UK over a three-week period between October 25th and November 20th.

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