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Oftel's taking the credit - yet again - for the UK having some of the widest range and most competitively priced Internet access in the world.

Publishing its latest research into the UK Internet market, the telecoms regulator found that 45 per cent of UK households (11 million homes) are connected to the Internet, compared to 30 per cent this time last year.

The latest figures also show a return to growth for Net usage. In the last Oftel survey published in November Oftel revealed that Net access had fallen one point to 39 per cent.

Crowing about today's latest stats Oftel chief, David Edmonds said: "Oftel's review of the Internet access market shows that consumers have access to a wide range of services and prices for using the Internet that are among the best in the world.

"Action by Oftel, notably the requirement on BT to offer wholesale unmetered Internet access, has helped to put this flourishing market in place."

While Mr Edmonds enjoys the plaudits, it should be remembered that these figures only examine dial-up access. This research ignores broadband access using DSL, cable modems or unbundled local loops.

If they were included then the lustre would certainly be taken off Mr Edmonds' performance.

Still, not to worry. We're absolutely sure that Oftel is busy working to correct the UK's pitiful status as a third world broadband nation.

And we fully expect that in a couple of decades or so Oftel's successors will be crowing just as loudly about how they managed to introduce the most competitive and widely available broadband services to the UK. Can't wait. ®

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