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Less than one quarter of people with web-capable handsets actually make use of mobile internet services, it has been claimed.

A survey, carried out on behalf of website Moneysupermarket, found that cost and functionality are the main barriers to usage. Around 70 per cent of the 2179 people questioned admitted they have no idea how much mobile-based surfing could cost them.

One in four also said that mobile web access is too slow on their phones, despite a recent Ofcom report revealing that 87 per cent of the UK population now have access to a 3G network.

The price comparison website’s report stands in contrast to another recent mobile web usage report by Nielsen Online. It said that 7.3m of us accessed the web using a phone during Q3 this year, up from 5.8m during the previous quarter.

“The handsets are out there, people just need to be made aware it's not as expensive as they might think,” said James Parker, Manager of Mobiles and Broadband at Moneysupermarket.

However, his firm's report also revealed some interesting mobile web usage patterns. For example, men spend an average of 16 minutes each week surfing the web on their phone, compared to just 11 minutes for women.

Email and news were the most popular things to look at from a mobile, but maps, social network sites and... ahem... adult content also received mentions.

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