Seven million UK households are connected to the Internet, according to a recent report from Oftel.

The figure, which represents 28 per cent of UK households, was bolstered in the three months to August with almost one million homes going online during the period. Additionally, Oftel reports that over 1.5 million domestic subscribers are now using an unmetered package to access the Internet.

The report also states that 5.25 million homes have signed up for digital-TV services, a ten per cent increase in the number of subscribers in the last three months alone. Ten per cent of households with digital TV use it to access the Internet, the report adds, and 15 per cent send and receive email through their TV.

Cheapest Oftel claims that its figures show the UK has become the cheapest country in Europe for unmetered, off-peak access, and remains among the cheapest for metered off-peak access. However, critics say that access charges remain too high, placing the UK at a disadvantage on the global Internet stage.

David Edmonds, director general of telecommunications at Oftel, said: "It is particularly encouraging to see an increase in unmetered Internet access following Oftel's intervention to require BT to provide a wholesale product for operators to use to supply their customers."

The full survey, Consumers' use of the Internet: Summary of Oftel residential survey August 2000 is available on Oftel's Web site.