Broadband use across the European Union is rapidly growing, according to new research.
A survey of the 25 members states reveals a 60% growth in the number of broadband subscribers between July 2004 and July 2005.
The report by the European Commission is the first attempt to benchmark progress across the EU in implementing its 2005 'Information Society' framework, i2010, which set out objectives for increasing internet and broadband use.
Overall it found that there were 48.4 million broadband users across the EU in July 2005, compared to 30.2m in July 2004.
Compared to other countries such as the USA, Canada and Japan, this was the highest rate of growth, although the EU still has one of the lowest penetration rates at 10.6 percent.
The report also looked at the availability and usage of e-government services across the EU.
The most recent measurement in October 2004 found that the fully online availability of basic services across the 25 EU states stood at 40 per cent.
This was substantially lower in the 10 new member states, which offered only 10 per cent of services fully online.
However, benchmarking of the 15 original EU member states (EU15) between 2001 and 2005 showed a substantial growth from 20 to 46 per cent in the availability of online public services.
Demand for public information online across the EU15 also grew, with use doubling between 2002 and 2004 from 12 to 24 per cent. The comparable 2004 figure for all 25 members states was 21 per cent.
On businesses' use of ICT, the report found no evidence of growth. Overall 89 per cent of firms in the EU25 have an internet connection, although fewer