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Have Net and have not divide grows

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The digital divide has grown, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, despite an overall swelling of the online population in the last 18 months.

Overall, 45 per cent of the adult population has accessed the net at some point, with 80 per cent of these having done so in the last month. However, the country is still divided according to income, sex and geography.

While the number of people online in England rose by an average of eight per cent, compared to five percent in the rest of the UK. Over 70 per cent of the "professional" class have access to the net against 26 per cent of "unskilled" workers.

Only ten per cent of the poorest tenth of the population has any form of net access at home, compared to 60 per cent of the richest tenth, and more men that women have accessed the web, still, despite that particular gap seeming to close a little.

Age is another dividing factor: although 80 per cent of people between 16 and 24 have been online, this number falls off rapidly with increasing age - only half of the 45-50 age group had accessed the net.

Despite this the government insists that we are not a nation of have-nets and have-nots. Cabinet Office minister Ian McCartney told the FT: "All schools and libraries will be online by the end of 2002," as well as mentioning government plans to distribute "reconditioned" computers to low income families.

The overwhelmingly most popular method of net access from home was a PC - accounting for 98 per cent of logons. However, since July the number of people getting online through digital TV or WAP phones rose from one per cent each to six and five per cent respectively. ®

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