Nearly 10 million people in the US logged on to the internet for the first time in 2002, boosting the country’s internet take-up to 79 percent, according to research group Nielsen Net Ratings

The US’s 168.6 million internet users put the country in first place in the ‘online race’, ahead of Spain where uptake rose by 6.9 million users, leaping from 10.1 to 17 million.

But the research company’s international chief of measurement science, Richard Goosey, says the US should not pat itself on the back just yet. "As a percentage of the population, this number only represents a three percent increase for the US, whereas Spain experienced an increase of 22 percent,” said Gossey.

In the UK, 2.4 million more of us signed up, making our online community to 30.4 million strong and an increase of six percent.

“Germany and the UK are now well established as having large internet populations in Europe,” added Gossey.

The UK government has been working hard on marketing the benefits of broadband and as prices for such services start to fall people are slowly switching to the high speed services. Research firm Strategy Analytics says 1.6 million people are now signed up to broadband in the UK.

The World Economic Forum has also released national rankings showing how well individual countrys are doing in terms of IT adoption, communication use and the quality of their technological infrastructure.

The UK is ranked seventh — up three places from last year. This figure represents the number of drives undertaken by businesses and the government, as well as the increased awareness among customers.

Click here to view the full report.