Internet access is set to grow rapidly in eastern Europe over the next few years, according to a report from the Yankee Group.

The web’s household penetration in the region will soar from is present low base of little more than 5% to 21% in 2005, forecasts the study. “There is no doubting the enthusiasm for the internet in eastern Europe,” said Graham Finnie, author of the report. “Eastern Europeans are generally well-educated and technically literate.”

However, penetration is unlikely to reach levels seen in Western Europe due to low household incomes and delays in reforms to telecoms regulation.

Moreover, the pace of growth will differ across the region. Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic – the five countries accepted by the European Union as candidate members – augur best for online growth, while the likes of Bulgaria and Romania will see penetration increase more sluggishly.

Despite low incomes, the relative lack of payment options such as credit cards and a general distrust of buying online, there are some promising signs for the region’s e-commerce, such as the gradual upgrading of the telecoms infrastructure, a high penetration of computers in offices and plenty of finance and expertise from outside.

News source: Daily Research News Online