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China, India home to 860 mn internet users: UN agency
November 26, 2014, 7:42 am

Delegates attend the closing ceremony of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, east China's Zhejiang Province, Nov. 21, 2014 [Xinhua]

Delegates attend the closing ceremony of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Nov. 21, 2014 [Xinhua]

China and India are home to around 860 million Internet users, almost 30 per cent of the world’s total and 66 per cent of Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region, the United Nations’ ITU agency says in a new report.

“Penetration rates in the two countries differ greatly, though, reflecting their overall differences in income and other development indicators: while the percentage of Internet users in China is 46 per cent, it is only 18 per cent in India,” says the agency’s “Measuring the Information Society” Report released on Tuesday.

“India has one of the lowest rates in the Asia Pacific region (and globally): only Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Solomon Islands recorded a lower proportion of Internet users,” added the report.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report also underlines the urban-rural digital divide in countries like India.

“Income inequalities within countries are one of the reasons why broadband – in particular fixed broadband – remains unaffordable to large segments of the population,” writes Brahima Sanou, Telecommunication Director at the ITU.

At $4.8, India is also home to the countries with the lowest entry-level fixed-broadband prices, alongwith Vietnam ($2.9), Sri Lanka ($4.3), Bangladesh ($4.4).

“The entry-level fixed- broadband prices achieved in these countries are outstandingly low, and there is little margin for price reduction. These prices are available in the main urban areas, and therefore part of the challenge may be making these offers available to all inhabitants in the country, particularly in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka where fixed (wired)-broadband penetration was below 2 per cent in 2013,” said the UN agency.

4.3 billion people in the world are still not online, and 90 per cent of them live in the developing world.

The ITU report also shows that mobile broadband is growing fast, but the difference between developed and developing regions remains large, with 84 per cent penetration in the former as against 21 per cent in the latter.

The ITU also lauded the African continent for growing emphasis on information and connectivity uptake.

“Mobile penetration in Africa stands out with a growth rate of over 40% – twice as high as the global average. By end 2014, mobile-broadband penetration in Africa will have reached almost 20%, up from less than 2% four years earlier,” says the report.

The Chinese government announced in September this year that it plans to invest 2 trillion yuan ($323 billion) to improve its broadband infrastructure by 2020 with the aim of taking the nearly entire population online.

The Narendra Modi government in India has also emphasized its commitment to a broadband revolution though launch of a ‘Digital India’ initiative that aims to provide digital access to all citizens including the rural poor.

Chinese and Indian investment in broadband could benefit global network equipment makers such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, as well as home-grown players like Huawei Technologies, Bharti Airtel, Reliance and ZTE Corp.

The ITU, which groups governments and manufacturers in setting standards for the industry, also noted in its latest report that in China, more than 100 million new mobile-cellular subscriptions were added in 2013, taking the penetration rate up to 89 per cent.



One Response to China, India home to 860 mn internet users: UN agency

  1. Don McBride Reply

    November 27, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Are there any plans to bring a BRICS or Asian servers to USA. I’m not happy about NSA spying on me OR possible curtailing of internet freedoms!!!
    Thank You.

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