Home Internet access has doubled in most UK regions over the past year, fuelled by offers of free surfing brought about by fierce competition in the Internet service provider (ISP) market.
Data released this week by the Office for National Statistics, based on a survey 7,000 households, reveals that one in four homes (6.5 million) are now wired to the Internet. These figures are lower than those released by research group AC Nielsen in May, which suggested 30% penetration.
But access depends crucially on income, where people live and whether they have children. Half of all highest income homes surf the Net while only 3%-6% of low income households have access.
Some 35% of households with two children have online capability. But less than 1% of single pensioners have access to the Web at home.
London and the South East lead the way in Internet usage (25%), while Northern Ireland (11%) and Scotland (14%) lag behind.