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European Web market stunted by metered calls

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The number of European households in Cyberspace will triple over the next four years to 47 million, but time spent online will stay low. This is because local phone costs are charged by the minute in Europe, according to a study by Jupiter Communications. In the US, users pay a monthly fee for access and no call charges. Although free Internet access has already boosted the number of Europeans logging on, companies will need to motivate consumers to spend time online, said Jupiter. "Telephone usage is metered and that alone will continue to hold back the growth of online advertising, content and commerce ventures in Europe by inhibiting Internet usage," said Phil Dwyer, MD of Jupiter Communications European operations. The European market is not just one or two years behind the US, as is commonly believed, warned Dwyer. "Structural differences exist between the two markets." By 2003, there will be 47 online households in Europe, or 31 per cent penetration. This compares to 14 million at the end of 1998, or nine per cent penetration. Jupiter advised European Internet businesses to take on "free-to-air" business models with advertising, business and content partners. This would bolster Internet usage and gain the companies market share. ®

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