A telephone survey conducted by Ipsos Reid this past summer has found that over four in five Canadians (82%) now have Internet access at home.

The researchers say this represents a 6% increase from the second quarter of 2008 and a 4% increase from six months earlier.

The researchers say the rising number of Canadians with internet access is notable because it shows that despite the downturn in the economy, Canadians believe that having Internet access is essential.

“Internet access is critical to finding employment; it can be used to save money, for paying bills, finding deals, and as a form of entertainment. It has become so important to the lives of Canadians, that in some areas of the country, Internet access is almost identical to home telephone access” said study author Mark Laver with Ipsos Reid.

The study found that access at home is almost universal for those under 55 years of age as 89% of those aged 18 to 34 and 87% of those aged 35 to 54 have Internet access at home. In comparison, only 69% of those aged 55+ have access at home.

Laver continues, “The older generation is the fastest growing segment of online users, quickly catching up to the younger generations in their adoption of the Internet. By comparison, in Q1, 2006 only one-half (57%) of those aged 55+ had Internet access.”

Dial-up access is in the last stages of use as only 8% of Internet-enabled Canadians access the Internet through this method, while about eight in ten are using some form of high speed access. Interestingly, there has also been a rise in the last 18 months of an ‘other’ category – widely suspected to be Mobile Broadband Sticks, Netbooks and Smartphone users.

For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1,002 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone from July 6-10, 2009.