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Europe gets connected through broadband

The BBC is currently working in partnership with the government to get the whole nation onto the web in the fast lane.

According to market analysts Nielsen/NetRatings, Britain is catching up with its European neighbours as over 54 million people are hooked up to the net via broadband today. The numbers are up from 34 million a year ago.

The total number of Europeans currently surfing the net has reached the 100 million, with a quarter of them spending significantly less time in front of the TV. The cheap calls through the Internet (VOIP) and video-on-demand are just two services that will make broadband a must-have in homes.

The government estimates that the rise in numbers of broadband users has a major impact on industrial efficiency; it is set to create more jobs and e-businesses, and improve the country's global competitiveness, as well as per capita GDP.

The best example seems to be Korea, where 75% of homes have broadband and not coincidentally the highest per capita penetration anywhere in the world.

Even mobile phones serve as a tool to get Britons online. Increased broadband penetration has meant continuous access to instant unlimited TV, music and emails anytime, anywhere – via broadband enabled mobile phones, GPRS.

In theory, soon users will even be able to programme their central heating from work or start the dinner cooking on their drive home.

The biggest change comes in the reduction of people watching TV, and more people going online instead. Olivier Beauvillian, Jupiter Research analyst says: "Year-on-year we are continuing to see a seismic shift in where, when and how Europe's population consume media for information and entertainment and this has big implications for TV, newspaper and radio."

Increase in broadband uptake in 2004:

Italy: 120%

UK: 93%

France: 70%

Switzerland: 42%

Spain: 33%

Germany: 33%

(Source: Nielsen/Netratings)

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