More Than Half-Billion Online Globally

According to findings from Nielsen//NetRatings, 580 million people now have Internet access with 168.6 million attributed to the U.S. The global Internet population grew by 4 percent in 11 major Internet markets during 2002, most notably in Spain, which registered a 22 percent increase to 17 million users.

Richard Goosey, international chief of measurement science, Nielsen//NetRatings, identifies Spain as the next great Internet market. “In addition to the largest increase in percent of population with Internet access, Spain also had the biggest percentage increase in most of the Internet activities undertaken among surfers in the past six months, with a 6 percent increase in sending and receiving email, a 5 percent increase in looking at audio-visual content and a nine percent increase in chat room participation. Moreover, Spain now has the highest rate of instant message usage (49 percent) and chat room participation (44 percent) across all countries.”

The 3 percent increase in the U.S. represents 9.7 million new users, maintaining the nation’s status of highest Internet population. “Nearly 10 million people over the age of 16 gained Internet access in the U.S. between the end of 2001 and the end of 2002, significantly more than in the other 10 markets studied,” said Goosey.

The 2002 UCLA Internet Report, created by the Center for Communication Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, identified an Internet population of 71.1 percent in 2002 – decreasing slightly from 2001’s 72.3 percent, and up from 66.9 percent in 2000. Internet usage at home remained virtually steady from 2001 to 2002 – 58.4 percent in 2001 and 59.3 percent in 2002 – but there was a noticeable gain over 2000’s figure of 46.9 percent.

Nielsen//NetRatings’ data focuses on the Internet penetration and usage in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK, with additional global universe data for the U.S., Japan and Switzerland.

Goosey comments, “Of the countries covered in this report, Germany (35.6 million), the United Kingdom (29 million) and Italy (22.7 million) have the largest number of people outside the U.S. with Internet access via a home PC, together accounting for more than half (54 percent) of the total for all 10 countries (160.6 million) outside the U.S.”

The report identifies Sweden, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Australia as the most mature Internet markets, with the highest percentage of people that own or lease a home PC (all 63+ percent), and the highest Internet connection rates (all 81+ percent) for those who have a PC in their home.

Findings from IDC revealed increases in Internet usage in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), driven by workplace and school users. IDC forecasts usage to reach 17 percent in 2003, climbing to 27 percent in 2006.

“Although research indicates penetration levels in the region are continuing to grow, the market is still trailing behind Western European levels. This trend should continue through 2006,” said Joshua Budd, senior analyst with IDC CEMA’s Telecoms and Internet group. “Low home penetration rates across the CEE region are preventing the market from reaching its full potential.”

“Estonia and Slovenia stand out as leaders in the region, as both countries have Internet penetration levels on par with Western Europe,” Budd added. “This can be attributed to government efforts to promote Internet usage in schools and public access points, as well as to private initiatives among businesses to promote the Internet.”

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