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Almost 90 per cent of home internet users in the UK now spend six hours or more online each week, according to new research.

Analysis from Point Topic's most recent broadband consumer survey indicates that 86.6 per cent of residential internet users spend at least six hours online every week, up from 83 per cent at the end of 2006 and 50 per cent at the end of 2005. In addition, five per cent of respondents claimed to spend more than 80 hours a week online.

The latest research reveals that 40 per cent of broadband users spend their time downloading music, while 16 per cent watch TV or streaming video. In addition, 90 per cent of high-speed internet subscribers go online to send emails while more than 60 per cent use auction sites such as eBay.

The study shows that there's been an increase in the number of online Britons who shop on the web. However, most internet users are spending less money online than in previous years.

In late 2006 just under 65 per cent of respondents said they had purchased from an online store. By June 2007 this had increased to 70 per cent. But, weekly spend declined during this period the study found, and this was matched with a percentage increase in user spending at the lower end of the scale (£1-£20 per week).

"We believe the shift has a number of causes," says Dr Katja Mueller, research director at Point Topic. "One is that the fastest growing groups of online users are now at the lower end of the income scale and this is reflected directly in the amounts being spent online. Another is that people are increasingly using the internet to buy smaller items."

Dr Mueller added that seasonal effects may also account for the decline in spending online in the UK.

No comparable figures on time spent online are easily obtainable for Ireland, but according to Aileen O'Toole, managing director of the internet consultancy firm Amas, there is a link between broadband uptake and a rise in the number of hours that users spend on the net.

Moreover, O'Toole suggests that as broadband penetration increases in Ireland, so does the percentage of people purchasing online. "The more people spend time on the internet, the better experience they have, which makes them more confident about buying online," O'Toole told ENN.

According to Amas' State of the Net' report from last Winter, 24 per cent of Irish internet users shopped online, with one in every two claiming they were going to spend more on Christmas presents online last year than previously.

© 2007 ENN

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