IT analyst firm, International Data Corporation’s (IDC’s) new report, "European Internet Access Market, 1999-2004" shows that Internet use in Europe is growing rapidly.

This growth is driven by "more new users, the success of subscription-free and unmetered access services, the emergence of broadband-access technologies, and continuing price erosion", says IDC.

IDG expect total user spending on Internet access services to grow at a compound rate of 28 per cent per year till 2004.

Free ISPs Subscription-free Internet access has become widespread in most European countries, though the report recognizes that the pressure is on to develop US-style unmetered access, which may affect the subscription-free market.

The growth rates of the leased line and dial-up markets are being eclipsed by new broadband services – DSL, cable modem and fixed wireless access. Broadband access will "represent one-third of all connections by the end of 2004".

BT’s Openworld ADSL service launches June 29, though not yet Mac compatible, a BT spokesman has claimed a Mac-friendly service will be available "in late summer".

Unhappy With demand in Europe for broadband access increasing, Mac users are critical of BT for failing to offer broadband services for Macs (see the Macworld Forum).

IDC’s report also points out that further loop unbundling in Europe will fan competition in the Internet services market, predicting aggressive price-cuts as a result.