Nearly half (41 percent) of all internet activity in the UK is established via a broadband connection, according to figures published by research group RedSheriff.

The figures place the UK third in Europe in terms of broadband use, behind Sweden with 59 percent and Spain with 57 percent.

But this percentage is far greater than numbers usually stated for broadband penetration.

"It is important to remember that these [figures are] the result of measuring 20 million site visitors, a [much larger base] than other surveys I have seen in the past," said Martin Filz, European VP at RedSheriff.

"This was not looking at broadband home usage, which obviously would be much lower. As 70 to 80 percent of traffic generally occurs during working hours, I am not surprised to see such a high broadband coverage," said Filz.

Figures released by telco watchdog Oftel back in June showed 46 percent of home users and 59 percent of businesses were connected to the internet. Of these around 709,000 consumers and SMEs were getting online via broadband.

Even by adding all corporate networks to this, it is unlikely the broadband takeup would reach even 30 percent.

On the home front, a survey released by NOP shows internet access has risen by 60 percent in the last six months.

It found that eight percent of home users currently have access to broadband services, a figure it sees growing to around 15 percent by 2003.

NOP found that the main reason for users shunning broadband was not cost but simply that most people did not use their service enough to warrant it.