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MINISTER HAILS 'UK ONLINE' AS INTERNET HOUSEHOLDS DOUBLE

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E-Minister Patricia Hewitt has welcomed news that the number of UK households on-line has doubled in the last year....
E-Minister Patricia Hewitt has welcomed news that the number of UK households on-line has doubled in the last year.

New figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that 6.5 million UK households (25%) could access the internet from a home PC in the first three months of 2000.

Ms Hewitt said: 'These new figures show that 'UK Online' is fast becoming a reality.

The prime minister has set a target of universal access to the internet by 2005.

'But there is still much to do. We want everyone to realise the opportunities of the internet. That is why we are connecting all our schools and libraries and taking the internet to poorer communities through 'UK Online' centres.

'Interactive digital TV has also brought the internet to many more people at home although those figures aren't included in this data, and the next generation of mobile phones will offer UK consumers fast access to the internet on the move.

'The UK is now second only to the US in terms of readiness for e-commerce among G7 countries according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.'

Initiatives under 'UK Online' include:

- All schools and libraries connected to the internet by 2002;

- 80 per cent discounts on basic IT courses;

- tax breaks for companies that lent computers to employees;

- 100,000 low income families to lease or buy cheap or refurbished

computers;

- over 700 IT access centres to be open next year; and,

- over 100 Information Society Initiative Centres providing advice and support for businesses.

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