Ten million homes are now hooked up to the internet, according to research by telco watchdog Oftel.

Conducted in May 2001, the study found a massive four million people had signed up to the net in the past year, with one-and-half million of those subscribing between February and May of this year.

"It is very pleasing to see Britain is maintaining its position as one of the most internet-friendly countries in the world," said a spokesperson at Oftel. "People's confidence in using the internet is climbing rapidly and its benefits are now being realised."

According to the study, nearly a quarter of May's new users had opted for unmetered internet packages, a rise of over five percent from February.

The report also focused on mobile phone takeup, with 70 percent of UK adults now owning a mobile phone, a figure which is still growing.

But the survey also revealed some rather negative results for broadband connections, with adoption estimated at one percent of total online users.

"Although based on a small sample, ADSL users seem to be under the age of 34 and among the AB social grades with higher household income, which perhaps indicates that the cost of this service continues to play a major part in uptake," the report concluded.

The report ties in well with the announcement today that cable operators Telewest and NTL are to launch a joint campaign to raise interest in high speed internet access.

The companies will be promoting broadband access packages, currently available to consumers at £24.99 a month, in a campaign designed to educate users about the benefits of a fast internet connection.

"Broadband cable puts an end to wasted time, money and effort," said Stephen Carter managing director of NTL.

Elsewhere in Europe, efforts are being made to encourage the takeup of high-speed access, according to a Reuters report published this weekend.

The report states the French government is providing £1bn worth of cheap loans to cable companies to help soften the blow of rollout costs.