Internet use and access in the EU

AP reports that a European Union report released yesterday shows wide differences in the level of Internet use among EU nations, with Benelux and Nordic countries leading the way and eastern and southeastern Europe generally lagging behind.

In the Netherlands, 78 percent of households are connected to the Net, compared to just 16 percent in Lithuania, according to the report from the Eurostat statistics agency, based on data gathered in early 2005.

The Dutch also lead the way in domestic broadband access, with 54 percent of homes linked up compared to 1 percent in Greece, 4 percent in Cyprus and 5 percent in the Czech Republic.

In Greece, 73 percent of the population say they have never used the Internet, the survey said, well above the EU average of 43 percent. More than half the citizens of the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Portugal have never logged on to the Net.

Among students, only 7 percent across the EU have never used the Internet.

Overall, the survey showed a rise in Internet connections since 2004. Domestic connections in the EU rose from 43 percent to 48 percent. The number of homes connected to broadband rose from 15 percent to 23 percent.

For EU businesses, Internet access rose from 89 percent to 91 percent, while broadband connections increased from 53 percent to 63 percent.

At least 90 percent of businesses are linked to the Internet in all nations included in the survey, except Latvia, Hungary, Cyprus, Lithuania and Poland. In Sweden, Denmark and Finland over 80 percent of firms have broadband access, compared with less than 45 percent in Cyprus, Poland and Greece.

The survey did not include France, which declined to take part.