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China becomes second largest internet nation
Updated: 2006-01-09 13:30

China has become the world's second most populous internet nation, with 20 million new users going online last year, according to research announced this week.

The total number of Chinese surfers reached almost 120 million last year, according to a report from US-based research and consulting firm eTForecasts.

Rapidly increasing internet adoption in Asia's highly-populous developing nations, notably China, India and Indonesia, has helped push the worldwide online population over one billion for the first time.

"Much of future internet user growth is coming from populous countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia," said report author Dr. Egil Juliussen.

"These countries will also see strong growth of wireless web usage, and for many new internet users the cellphone will be their only internet access device. "

Chinese surfers are also more likely to be on broadband connections than their US counterparts. Reflecting the relatively recent introduction of the internet to China, shared broadband access is relatively more common than in the US.

Data from UK-based Point Topic puts the number of Chinese broadband lines at 35 million compared to almost 41 million in the US.

While the number of people online continues to increase in all countries listed, the larger developing nations are seeing their percentage share of the worldwide internet audience grow rapidly while the proportion of users in developed nations, like the US, falls.

According to eTForecast's data, the US share of the global online population slid from 19.86 per cent in 2004 to 18.3 per cent last year, while China's share crept up from 10.68 per cent to 11.1 per cent.

Market saturation, particularly among easily reachable urban residents, is hobbling further growth in more developed nations.

The top internet nation, measured by total number of users, remains the US, with 197.8 million, followed by China, Japan, India, Germany, the UK, and South Korea.

Information provided by eTForecasts did not include the origin of its statistics, although they are broadly in line with data from other sources. The worldwide total number of users is 1.08 billion, up 150 million since 2004.

According to eTForecasts, global internet use increased almost tenfold from only 45 million in 1995 to 420 million in 2000. The figure has more than doubled in the five years since then, and is expected to double again to reach two billion in five years' time.

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