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Social networking site addiction drives mobile internet access

LONDON - Social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, are seeing huge boosts in traffic thanks to mobile phones, with average users checking their profiles more than eight times a day, says new research.

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Mobile phone network Orange said 640,000 of its customers are accessing social networking sites through their mobile phones, accounting for 166m page impressions every month.

Individual users will check or update social networking sites a total of 260 times per month, an average of eight times per day.

Phones using the 3G broadband network have also seen larges gains since July, said Orange, with 1.3m 3G customers added, an increase of 86%.

An estimated 2.9m Orange customers are now under the 3G network.

Paul Jevons, director of products, portals and services for Orange, said: "The popularity of mobile internet continues to rise and our customers now use the service as part of day-to-day life.

"Daily repeat customers are up 12% since the last report -- in part this is due to the rise in social networking as customers regularly update their online statues and log-on to stay up to speed on friends' news and gossip."

Since July, Orange customers using social networking on their mobiles have increased by 40% and monthly page views by over 57%.

Jevons said: "This latest report reflects a transition in mobile similar to what is taking place on the web -- mobile is no longer simply a channel for brands to deliver packaged content in a manner of their choosing.

"Instead the mobile phone has become a truly interactive channel that fosters the formation of communities through social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo."

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