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Study: Internet's Still Bigger On This Side Of The Atlantic

Analysis by research firm eMarketer says Internet use in Europe may never reach U.S. levels.

Internet use in Europe may never match American levels, according to an analysis by the Internet research firm eMarketer.

By year's end, the number of European Internet users will rise by 20.5% from a year earlier, to 196.2 million, reports eMarketer's study, Europe Online: Access, Demographics & Usage, which was released Wednesday. The report cites a studies by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Wilkofsky Gruen Associates that 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 says. "Still, 83% of Internet users report going online at least once a week."

Last year, two-thirds of North Americans had Internet access vs. 40% in Western Europe, according to iDate, a European market research firm. By 2006, North American penetration should reach 81% vs. 51.4% for Western Europeans.

Key findings from the report include:

• Internet-access spending will increase by a compound annual growth rate of 6.8% in Western Europe from 2002 to 2006, compared with 18.1% in Eastern Europe.

• Forty-six percent of men and 36% of women have home Internet access.

• Eighty-five percent of 15- to 24-year-olds in the European Union use the Internet, compared with 21% of those 55 and over.

• Italy leads Europe in mobile-phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants with 83.9, nearly double Europe's average of 43.8.

• While revenue from mobile voice services will remain constant from 2002 to 2005, data revenue will jump from $16.6 billion to $29.5 billion in that time.

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

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