Internet traffic across Britain's telecommunications networks braked sharply in the period January-September 2001, according to figures published today (Monday) by telecoms industry regulator Oftel.

In the quarter ended September, internet calls across the nation accounted for a total of 32 billion minutes, 8.5% up year-on-year but a marked deceleration on the 50% increase recorded during the same period in 2000.

Observed Oftel market information manager Nick Collins: “The rate of growth has slowed, but that is because the market has gone from nothing a few years ago to account for more than 40% of all telecoms traffic last year. It is still growing, but will slow because almost half the population is now online.”

Two of the nation’s largest ISPs expressed surprise at the apparent slowdown, both professing increased subscriber numbers. FreeServe and AOL each claimed that consumers had spent an increasing amount of time online as they became more web-savvy. According to the former, the total number of minutes used by its customers had risen by 50% over the past year.

The average dial-up user, FreeServe revealed, was online for about fifteen minutes daily, while flat-rate users stayed connected for over one hour per day.

Oftel’s report follows a warning from the European Commission that EU-wide growth in internet penetration had levelled-out. Although the number of households online had doubled between March 2000 and June 2001, the total had increased by only a few percentage points in the second half of last year.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff