Ireland lags behind its European counterparts for new websites
Ireland continues to lag behind its European neighbours for the number of websites per 1,000 people.
With 50 .ie sites per 1,000 people, Ireland is 18th out of 22 European countries, ahead of France and Spain.
However, the country falls behind countries with smaller or similar populations including Lithuania, Norway, and Denmark, according to the latest dot ie Domain Profile Report from IE Domain Registry (IEDR).
In addition, a report last year, also from IEDR, found that almost a quarter of Irish small and medium-sized companies are completely offline.
This is despite the fact that half of them acknowledge that an online presence is important for generating business awareness.
That said, the numbers of domains registered in Ireland is increasing, with 2017 recording a record numbers of new .ie domain registrations.
In total, just under 40,000 new ones were registered during the year - with an average of 108 new registrations a day.
The increase was driven by nationwide demand, with registrations up in all but four counties on the island of Ireland.
Corporate bodies and sole traders made up the majority of new registrations - at 67pc - during the year.
"More than two-thirds of new .ie domains in 2017 were registered by businesses, a 6pc increase on the previous year," said David Curtin, chief executive of IEDR, the company that manages Ireland's official country domain name.
"This signals a strong, growing economy with enterprises that have the confidence and willingness to invest in their online presence and digital processes," Mr Curtin said.
"Online address registrations are often recognised as a forward indicator of economic growth and entrepreneurship."
There are now 237,412 .ie domains in the database, a 7pc increase on the previous year, and a rise of almost 30pc on five years ago, as a web presence becomes increasingly more important for businesses.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest number of new domains were registered in counties around Ireland that have larger urban centres, with Dublin, Cork, and Galway registering the highest number of new domains.
At the other end of the scale, Fermanagh registered the smallest number of .ie domains on the island (39), with Leitrim registering the smallest number in the Republic (171), although both of the counties showed increases on the previous year.
The IEDR report cautioned on new figures from Eurostat, the official statistical office of the European Union.
Eurostat claims that Ireland ranks number one in the EU for web sales, but Mr Curtin described the figures as potentially "highly misleading".
"While this seems like a very positive result, the reality is that the survey excludes the micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees that make up 92pc of the Irish economy.
"The survey is therefore not an accurate reflection of Ireland's e-commerce capability," Mr Curtin said.
IEDR expects the growth of .ie domain registrations to increase this year, as registration becomes easier and faster from next month.
After March, any individual or business with a provable connection to Ireland will be able to register any available .ie online address on a first-come, first-served basis.