The results of new research conducted by the European Commission (EC) have just been published. It shows that 33 per cent of Europeans still haven't used the Internet. Ingrates. Probably too busy having a good time having a real life in real time surmises Martyn Warwick.
Mobile phone penetration in parts of Europe may well be above 120 per cent, broadband availability may be getting easier and cheaper, downloading anything and everything might be the new religion but the 27 Member States are still home to some determined Internet refuseniks.
What's perhaps more interesting that the EC's new Digital Competitiveness Report, somewhat perjoratively, classifies those that have so far declined to devote part of their short time on earth to negotiating their way round the intricacies of the Web as as "elderly, economically inactive and lowly educated". It seems the Brussels bureaucrats are of the opinion that if you don't have Internet connectivity, you're pretty much a non-person.
On the upside the report says "Half of European households and more than 80 per cent of European businesses have a fixed broadband connection, three quarters of them with average download speeds above 2 Mbit/s."
Back in 2007 when the last report was published 40 per cent of the EU's population had never been online.
At that time 38 per cent of those households without Internet access simply said they didn't need it anyway while 25 per cent said the cost of paying for a modem, cable connection and other necessary equipment was too high and a further 21 per cent said they couldn't afford to pay monthly ISP charges.
Elsewhere, the report reveals that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are adopting new technologies considerably more slowly than big companies and multinationals - hardly surprising in a recession.
It also finds though that the ICT sector itself is withstanding the economic hard times rather better than other industries and the "Internet industry", as the report so quaintly calls it, is "weathering the storm better than any other part of the sector".
The report concludes that the recession is actually having a beneficial effect in areas such as online advertising as traditional print media declines and scattergun advertising on terrestrial commercial TV withers away. At the same time more and more people are spending more and more time and more and more cash online.
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