Every home in Britain will have online access within five years, if the government hits its latest target.

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt announced this week that the government wants all households linked to the web in one form or another by 2008. For these purposes, being online includes internet access via narrowband or broadband connections, third-generation mobile phones and digital TV.

Around half of the nation's homes are already online, mostly through dial-up services. Said Hewitt: "While it is great news that so many people have access to the internet, we must continue to bridge the digital divide."

Former state-owned communications giant BT Group welcomed the news. "Will they achieve it?" asked head of retail Pierre Danon. "In a way that is not so important -- what is important is we are trying as a community to get there and there are benefits to be had regardless of how close we get."

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff