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RealTime IT News

Spain Sees Second-Semester Net Surge

[Madrid, SPAIN] Spanish Net use saw spectacular growth in the second half of 2000, leading experts to predict that one in three Spaniards will be online by the end of 2001.

According to an Internet usage study released this month by Spain's General Media Study (EGM), there are currently 6.8 million Spaniards online--above and beyond the 5.3 million mark predicted for the end of 2000. More than just casual users, 78 percent of these user (20 percent of Spain's over-14 population) claimed to use the Net on a regular basis.

"What we're seeing is a change in direction in the growth curve. If this keeps up, we'll reach 13 million users by the end of 2001, thus allowing for the explosion of electronic commerce in Spain," said Miguel Perez Subia, president of the Spanish Internet Users Association.

If these calculations are correct, one in three of roughly 40 million Spaniards will be online by the end of next year.

This sudden rise in usage is due mainly to two factors: the rapid growth of a Spanish Net instructure and its accompanying advertising blitzes; and the survey methods used.

The EGM's new survey ask Spaniards whether they use the Internet rather than if they have a connection to the Internet. The higher numbers point to those users who go online from places other than their homes.

An increasing number of Spaniards who go online don't do so from a home-based PC. In addition to those who log on from work or school, a growing number are using cybercafes and Internet connection centers like easyEverything (which charges roughly $1 an hour) or the recently installed high-speed access centers offered by ONOLab.

Spaniards can also use the Net through their television sets with QuieroTV. Two similar digital TV services are on the way, with licenses recently approved.

According to the survey, the most common Spanish net user is a middle-class or upper middle-class male in the 25-34 age bracket. While there are more Spanish women than men (48.6 percent, compared to 51.4 percent), men reign online, with a rough 60/40 percentage split.

But from a business standpoint, "the final conclusion should be positive," said the AUI.

"The rate of incorporation of Spaniards online is speeding up and is reaching its 'critical mass' stage. These statistics should be especially welcome among Spanish e-commerce companies which, in the midst of the crucial Christmas season, are now dealing with a larger number of user than expected."