More Europeans going online

More than half of European homes went online this year as the number using a hi-speed broadband connection to connect to the internet rose sharply, the EU statistical agency Eurostat, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The report said one in two people use an internet search engine while 15% of individuals use the net to make phone calls and 13% use peer-to-peer file sharing software to swap movies and music, according to the survey based on national figures for the first three months of 2007.

Some 54% of households in the EU's 27 nations had access to the internet, compared to 49% in the first quarter of 2006, the Associated Press report said.

Broadband use rose more sharply, up to 42% from 30% for the same quarter a year ago, the report said.

The Eurostat survey gave no margin of error.

The most online EU nation is the Netherlands, where more than four out of five homes have internet access, and it also leads the way with the highest rate of broadband connections, the report said.

The report further said lagging far behind is new EU member Bulgaria where only one in five households has internet access. Greece, however, has the lowest broadband rate, at just 7%, squeaking past Romania at 8%.