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Nearly two thirds of Americans have access to the Net either at home or work.

Around 168 million people, or 60 per cent of the population, went online in January, according to figures by Nielson/NetRatings. But this growth was not massive - just eight per cent higher than Internet penetration numbers for October.

The figures, collected from 62,000 home users and 8,000 work users, also account for the overlap of surfers who have Net access both at home and at work.

In total, home users far outweighed those at work - 41 million office workers went online last month, compared to 162 million surfers at home.

The same report outlined the top sites for January -the most visited corner of cyberspace was AOL/Time Warner's site, with 68 million unique visitors spending an average of 53 minutes. Next came Yahoo! with 59 million people spending an average of an hour and 31 minutes, and MSN, with 54 million, and one hour ten minutes.

Out of the top 25 sites, surfers spent longest on eBay's site, with the online auctioneer's 18,000 users staying for an average of an hour and 39 minutes.

The world's total online population is expected to rise to 1.17 billion by 2005 - it currently stands at 400 million, according to a report released earlier this week by eTForecasts. The speediest growth is tipped to be in Asia, Latin America and parts of Europe. ®

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