South Africa Nears 2 Million Internet Users

More than 500,000 new users went online in South Africa in 1999, to bring the total number of Internet users in South Africa to 1.82 million, according to a survey by Media, which predicts that number to rise to 2.4 million by the end of 2000.

The Fourth South African Internet Services Industry Survey 2000 found that rapid Internet growth in 1997 and 1998 was fueled by the marketing campaigns of several major new Internet Service Providers, resulting in the Internet reaching a critical mass of consumers in South Africa by the end of 1998. In 1999, for the first time since the Internet was established as consumer-oriented industry in South Africa, the rate of growth slowed down significantly, to less than 100 percent for the year. The slow-down in rate of growth will intensify during 2000, when the user base will grow by about one-third.

According to the study, the number of South Africans gaining access through dial-up modems via ISPs at the end of 1999 was found to number at least 560,000, up from 360,000 at the end of 1998. However, dial-up growth for the year 2000 is expected to slow down further, with the Internet dial-up user base growing at only 40 percent for the year to reach the 782,000 mark. This slow down in growth is expected to continue at least until a second telecommunications operator is allowed to roll out a full-service offering in competition to Telkom, possibly by 2003. By the end of 2003, it is projected the total number of Internet users should have reached 1,560,000.

The number of South Africans gaining access to the Internet through corporate networks linked to the Internet via high-speed digital leased lines continues to grow as large corporations accept the Internet. The study also found that growth in leased line connectivity is less rapid than in the past.

According to the survey, the number of corporate users in South Africa is estimated at 980,000 (700,000 in 1998). Once again, cautious implementation of connectivity among corporate white-collar workers, brought on especially by the virus threat and delays in making infrastructure available indicates growth during the year 2000 will not exceed 30 percent.

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