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A third of adults in Britain now use the Net - compared to a quarter just three months ago - according to the latest survey from Continental Research.

The surge in new usage is due partly to a rise in the number of women coming online, plus a greater interest in the Net from mainstream users.

Although 14 million adults now access the Net from home, work or school/college at least once a month, more than that, 21 million (45 per cent) people have Net access - whether they choose to use it or not.

According to Continental Research's Internet 2000 Quarter 2 Report, those who are about to come online have already decided what they want to do when they do get hooked-up to the Web.

Banking, buying a car and shopping online for groceries are top of the list for this new batch of savvy Net wannabes.

Colin Shaddick, director of Continental Research, said: "These figures indicate that those coming on-line later this year are bullish about what the Internet is going to offer them, and are interested in tapping the Internet's potential.

"It will be interesting to examine if their expectations are matched by reality, and whether usage of these functions will increase over the next year," he said. ®

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