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Surf's up on the Net--23 percent over last year

People surfing the Web at home are spending 23 percent more time online this year compared with last year, according to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings.

People surfing the Web at home spent 23 percent more time online this year than last year, according to a report released Wednesday by Net traffic measurement company Nielsen/NetRatings.

The report revealed that Internet home users surfed an average of 10 hours and 4 minutes in October--more than the average of 8 hours and 13 minutes for the same period a year ago.

Nielsen/NetRatings also revealed that 54 percent of people in the United States for the month of October 2000 have access to the Web from home compared with 41.3 percent in October 1999, showing that Internet accessibility is continuing to increase.

Last month, nearly 150 million people out of 276 million in the United States had access to the Net, a 32 percent increase over the same time last year, which only had 113 million people. The two age groups that led this growth were youths and seniors.

In addition, page views per month grew substantially over the past year. In October, people visited 720 pages compared to last year's 524 pages--an increase of 37 percent.

"The portals, in particular, are doing a good job at going broader and deeper in the kind of content and the kind of information that they provide," said Allen Weiner, vice president of analytical services at NetRatings.

Weiner said that as Internet content expands, sites are attracting and keeping surfers' attention longer through extra services, such as free email, chat and mobile messaging. He said that when people spend more time online, they are predominantly visiting sites that provide a one-stop shop for all of their needs.

"People are spending more and more time on the Web because there's more compelling things that are core or central to their lives," Weiner said. "We're really seeing a pre-major evolution of the Web."

Nielsen/NetRatings said that more established sites continued to offer richer content, causing a barrier for new sites to emerge. Essentially, people are going to the same sites, making it harder for new sites to compete with established sites.

"It's really difficult to be a little fish in the market today because of what it takes to gain attention in the marketplace," Weiner said.

The top 25 Web properties for the month of October that combined access from home and work included: AOL Web sites, with 64.7 million unique users; Yahoo, with 63.7 million; MSN, with 51.4 million; Microsoft, with 34.6 million; and Lycos Network, with 33.7 million.