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BT is to study the minority of people who have resisted the lure of the internet.

The telecommunications giant's study forms part of its Crossing the Divide Initiative and will attempt to find out why Britain's internet refuseniks, who form 39 per cent of the population, have resisted both dial-up and broadband connections.

One early prognosis is that it is the perceived stressfulness of surfing for novice users that is proving offputting, which will be put to the test in the study of four novice internet users being coached as part of the experiment.

Dr David Lewis, a psychologist working with BT on the project, told BBC Online: "More often the barriers are internal, stemming from a fear of the technology."

"It will be interesting to see whether the trial will be enough to build the participants' online confidence, or whether more needs to be done in terms of support and guidance to help them to become tech savvy," he said.

A study conducted by Ofcom last month showed that 47 per cent of UK residents do not have a broadband connection at home, despite the profusion of ever cheaper deals and packages being offered by UK broadband providers.

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