Asia to see 183.3m Net users in 2003

Asia Pacific will see more Internet subscribers than the US by 2003 but the region will still lag behind in terms of access revenue.

SINGAPORE--Asia Pacific will see more Internet subscribers than the US by 2003 but the region will still lag behind in terms of access revenue.

According to a Gartner report released today, Asia Pacific is expected to have 183.3 million Internet subscribers in 2003, compared with 162.8 million in the US. The figure in the region is expected to further increase to 248 million by 2005.

However, the region's access revenue generated by these subscribers will still be lower than the US'--at least till 2010, the Gartner report noted.

"By 2005, the Asia Pacific Internet access market will be worth US$17.2 billion, whereas the United States will still have a distinct lead with US$21.2 billion," Gartner predicted.

"This differential between subscribers and access revenue illustrates a major reason why Internet use is still growing rapidly in Asia Pacific; the region has some of the lowest Internet access rates in the world, and prices are still coming down as a result of competition or, in some cases, government direction," said Gartner Dataquest Asia Pacific senior analyst for Telecommunications and Networking group Andrew Chetham.

"There is a clear pent-up desire by vast numbers of people in Asia Pacific to go online. Falling prices and improved infrastructure, especially in countries with big populations like China and India, are recipes for encouraging large numbers of new subscribers," he added.

Japan had the largest number of subscribers in the region last year, with a base of 24.4 million. This was followed by South Korea with 16.7 million, China with 14.6 million and Taiwan with 4.6 million.

These four countries make up 76 percent of Asia Pacific's total Internet subscriber base.

This year, Gartner expects some changes in the ranking. China is expected to replace South Korea in second place, but will not catch up with Japan until 2003.

The country that can look forward to the highest growth rates in the region is India. From 2001 to 2005, Gartner expects India to enjoy an average subscriber growth rate of 44 percent a year. By 2005, the subcontinent will have 21.3 million subscribers, making it the fourth largest Internet market in the Asia Pacific region after China, Japan and South Korea.

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