January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Study Tracks Online Access Here and Abroad

More than 295 million people have Internet access through a home PC, according to a new study by Neilsen/NetRatings ö and more than one third of them, 137 million ö are in the United States. The number of Americans with home access to a PC dwarfs the second-largest contender among the countries surveyed, Japan, where 26 million are wired at home. "The U.S. and Japan are widely recognized as having the largest Internet populations in the world," says David Day, director of analytics at AC Neilsen eRatings.com. But Europe is growing fast. "We see a European penetration figure of 82 million people which equates to one household in five, with more than half ö 56% -- of those people residing in the UK, Germany and Italy. Those three countries are well worth watching in the coming months" Day adds. At 64%, the UK had the highest browseöto-purchase ratio in Europe, the study found. By contrast, Internet retailers pursuing France face the toughest market on the continent. France had the lowest penetration of Internet access at either home or work; only 13 million and five million, respectively. Why? Minitel - France Telecomâs own information network has been entrenched since the early 80s.

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