Around ten million British households had access to the internet at the end of May, up from 6m the year before, according to a quarterly survey by MORI for telecoms authority Oftel.

On average, said the report, a new home connects to the web for the first time every eight seconds. Moreover, online access has increased even more rapidly in the last three months, with digital TV and mobile phones offering alternative means of surfing the internet.

British consumers seem remarkably happy with their internet service providers – 90% expressing satisfaction with their ISP, with over one-third describing themselves as “very satisfied”. Boasting 18% market share, Freeserve remains the most popular ISP, with AOL a close second. The top six are:

1. Freeserve (18%)
2. AOL (17%)
3. BT Internet (12%)
4. NTL (8%)
5. LineOne (4%)
6. VirginNet (3%)

Internet penetration rose among all age groups, with nearly 20% of over-55s surfing the internet from home. However, access is still highest among the young and middle-aged, and among high-income and large households. The survey also found that the average time households spent online rose to seven and a half hours weekly.

Unmetered internet access packages appear particularly effective – consumers with such flat-rate agreements spent around twice as long surfing the web as those with pay-per-minute deals. Around 24% of homes had signed up to unmetered packages in May, up from 18% in February.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)