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Research into cost of Web access shown to be wrong

Six month old survey fails to take world's fastest growing ISP into account -- whoops!

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Datamonitor, which claims to be one of the largest IT and communications research firms in Europe, has fallen victim to the sheer pace of the Internet and to its own sluggishness at publishing reports. Yesterday, the Financial Times led the business and IT press in a wave of coverage that swallowed Datamonitor's research hook, line and sinker. It concluded that the UK is the most expensive country in Europe for Net access and households have to pay three times more than their Nordic cousins. Wrong. The UK may have been the most costly country sometime last year when the research was carried out but that certainly isn't the case now. By the admission of consultant Stephen Adshed, the research was carried out before Dixons launched its Freeserve service at a time when there may have only been 100,000 or so free Internet subscribers in the UK. Even so, Datamonitor went ahead and published its results despite the fact that the situation had changed. Worryingly, the FT suggests that UK is still the most expensive country in Europe when it comes to Net access despite the introduction of Freeserve. Wrong again. According to Adshed: "It is likely now that the UK has slipped down the charts." Trouble is, where? To be honest, no one knows -- and nor are we likely to find out, not when it takes researchers five or six months to publish their findings. With 700,000 active accounts to its name no one can dismiss the impact of Freeserve on the marketplace. It would also be foolish to dismiss the contribution made by the other services providing free Net access. Unfortunately, it appears that Datamonitor has done just that. The pace of Net life is blistering. Blink, and you miss it. Go to sleep for six months -- what do you expect? ®

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