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Johannesburg - So, who are the most net-connected people in South Africa? Which suburb has the highest web addiction? A new survey has produced some surprising results.

The people who live in Ruimsig on the West Rand are the country’s leaders when it comes to internet logging on, with 72 percent of them saying they go on at least once a week.

Next highest is not, as many might expect, the high rolling, high living area of Sandton – it is central Pretoria, where 69 percent of residents hit the net at least once a week. Third in the province, and nationally, is Fourways, where 68 percent of people do the weekly web wobble.

The figures – distilled from analysis of the Roots 2013 country-wide survey by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau – show as expected that the country’s richest province, Gauteng, is tops when it comes to digital activity.

Surprisingly, the area of White River in Mpumalanga appears to be a countryside hot spot, with 63 percent of residents using the web at least once a week.

This compares closely with the top users of the internet in the Western Cape, the residents of the Durbanville area, 64 percent of whom log on once a week.

In the Western Cape, Durbanville is followed, is usage terms, by the West Coast/Milnerton/Parklands at 58 percent, tied with Constantia, also at 58 percent.

The populous KwaZulu-Natal province lags the other two, with its top web using areas showing that less than half of residents access the internet at least once a week. Top areas are North Coast/Ballito (49 percent) and uMhlanga/Durban North (49 percent); followed by Berea (44 percent).

In overall terms, the national picture is similar with Gauteng leading the way with 37 percent of people accessing the net at least once a week; followed by the Western Cape (32 percent), KZN (30 percent) and Northern Cape (11 percent).

The study, commissioned by the NAB and conducted by TNS research surveys, produced results applicable to just under 4 million residents of urban areas who were living in formal, brick and mortar structures.

John Bowles, Joint Managing Director at NAB, said the survey questions were directed at Purchase Decision Makers (PDMs) across a total of 115 suburbs countrywide.

“Desktops, tablets, laptops, notebooks, cellphones/ smartphones and even TVs are the obvious tools to link into the web. But the split between desktop/notebook/laptop vs cellphone/smartphone is a close race: 67 percent of users use the former and 65 percent access the web through their phones on a weekly basis. Almost half use a combination of the two platforms.”

Bowles said the crossover for access to the web from desktop to laptop/notebook “has already happened. The fixed unit is likely to join VHS and Betamax in the tech graveyard in the coming years.”

But by area, the choice of device when accessing the web is very interesting with some areas preferring to access the web via their PCs – Walmer in PE tops the list at 81 percent, Rosebank, Johannesburg, PDMs prefer the laptop/notebook option for their web access (75 percent) more than from their smartphones or desktops.

For cellphone/smart phones, 92 percent of internet users in Sedibeng in the Vaal use their phones to do so – making it proportionately the highest web access by cellphone area in urban South Africa.

E-mail and knowledge/education is accessed more via desktop/notebook than the smartphone where social networking is more relevant to the phone user. Respondents accessing the net on a weekly basis felt split on what their most important activity was with social networking (35.3 percent) just pipping e-mail (35.2 percent) followed by knowledge and education activities (14.7 percent).

In terms of ecommerce, 12.5 percent of users who access the web shop online weekly (for music, travel, groceries or financial products etc.)

The highest online shoppers by area are Mpumalanga’s urban towns which make up proportionately the highest provincial split for shopping online (19.2 percent) while Fourways is ranked top for buying data bundles.

Out of all of South Africa’s suburbs and towns, 57 percent of PDMs in this area buy data bundles for internet connection with over 50 percent consuming between 1 and 10 GB on a monthly basis. - Saturday Star