Europeans are slowly catching up with the US in terms of time spent online, according to research by Nielsen/Netratings.

The study found that the average time spent on the internet by European web users jumped 7.6% between September and October, while the equivalent figure in the US was only 4.9%. However, Europe’s average of six hours a day is still some way behind America’s ten hours.

However, ACNielsen’s David Day predicted that this gap could soon diminish: “The key to opening up Europe to the levels of usage seen in the States will be driving down the cost of access, and with fixed-rate access beginning to happen in Europe that process has already begun”.

Day especially mentioned UK telecoms regulator Oftel’s new guidelines, adding: “the time spent online by UK surfers each month is set to increase dramatically”.

Within Europe, the UK saw the fastest growth among surveyed countries, as time online jumped 10.1%. However, the average of five hours, fifteen minutes remained the lowest total in the survey. Elsewhere, German surfers’ average time on the web rose to seven hours, thirty-three minutes (a rise of 4.6%), in France it was six hours, fourteen minutes (5.1%) and in Italy five hours, twenty nine minutes (6.8%).

However, Day also warned: “Extra time won't necessarily be spent on shopping, but on keeping up with news sites and examining products in more depth. What we're looking at when people spend more time online is the evolution of a more discerning and demanding shopper, not just one who buys more”.

News source: Wall Street Journal