International Web Landscape

The Computer Industry Almanac speculates that Internet users will top 1 billion in 2005.

Internet usage is growing strongly in China, which surpassed Japan for second place in 2003. The growth of Internet users will continue in the developing countries for another decade. "Much of future Internet users growth is coming from populous countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia", says Dr. Egil Juliussen, the author of the report. These countries will also see strong growth of wireless web usage and for many new Internet users the cell phone will be their only Internet access device.

Top 15 Countries in Internet Usage [source]
Year-end 2004:Internet
Users (#K)
Share %
1. U.S.185,55019.86
2. China99,80010.68
3. Japan78,0508.35
4. Germany41,8804.48
5. India36,9703.96
6. UK33,1103.54
7. South Korea31,6703.39
8. Italy25,5302.73
9. France25,4702.73
10. Brazil22,3202.39
11. Russia21,2302.27
12. Canada20,4502.19
13. Mexico13,8801.49
14. Spain13,4401.44
15. Australia13,0101.39
Top 15 Countries662,36070.88
Worldwide Total934,480100

The Nielsen//NetRatings global Internet index reports that:

This data suggests considerations for a kind of concise, bite-sized writing style discussed further in the blog section here.

Broadband access is also rising world-wide. Point Topic speculates that global broadband subscribers exceeded 150 million in 2004:

The USA remains the world's leading broadband country achieving 31.7m lines in Q3 2004. China is in second place, adding 3m to reach 22.2m lines, and is pulling further ahead of Japan which had 17.2m lines. France overtook Canada to take sixth place with 5.7m lines. The UK added 762,000 lines in Q3 - the most by any European country, and reached 5.1m lines.

In terms of percentage growth, Thailand led the way with 95% growth to reach 110,000 lines - which were mainly DSL. Elsewhere, the Eastern European countries have displayed particularly strong growth, due to a combination of strong demand and greater transparency in their respective telecommunications markets.

Latin American countries also feature in the 'top ten' for growth, with Mexico achieving 33% and approaching 500,000 broadband lines. Argentina had growth of 26% as it passed 400,000 lines.

In terms of broadband penetration, South Korea remains the leader on almost 25 broadband lines per 100 people, with Hong Kong still in second place with 21 lines per 100 people.

Despite aggressive surveillance, censorship, and arrests, Chinese citizens are taking to the Internet in huge numbers.

The Internet has become the tool to connect across regions and issues around the country. This is supplemented by offline networks distributing information and software on disks and flash memory sticks.

New message boards and listservs quickly replace those shut down. Discussion is wide-ranging, for instance, challenging news sources on why are they not covering certain issues. Even large, mainstream news Web sites push beyond what official news sites publish.

Through online and offline connections, activists are also forging networks across issues: housing rights groups talking to people working on AIDS, labor activists connecting with groups working on women’s rights. Groups working on AIDS in particular, are reaching out to vulnerable populations.

Setting up a Web site though official channels is a cumbersome, bureaucratic process requiring government approval from a variety of agencies. Hosting abroad is one solution. The largest Chinese LGBT site is managed from Shanghai, but hosted in U.S., run from Los Angeles.

Even still, hosting abroad does not offer complete protection. This summer saw a government campaign of harassment of AIDS activists, shutting down sites and jailing list managers on charges of distributing pornography.

Though Africa has the smallest number of telephone lines per capita in the world, all 54 countries and territories in Africa have Internet access in the capital cities. Shared, public access and corporate networks continue to grow at greater rates than the number of dial-up users. However, the Internet is still used primarily used by an elite living in large urban centers. [source]

Forty-eight satellites cover every part of Africa with potential Internet access via satellite, but telecom policies and high costs prevent widespread deployment.[source]

Gender and Technology

Social and cultural norms that constrain women’s mobility and access to resources are also obstacles to participation online:

Women comprise between 30 and 50 percent of students in computer science and other natural sciences in a number of developing countries. Africa remains the area of greatest concern, however, as African women have the lowest participation rates in the world in science and technology education at all levels. The masculine image attributed to science and technology in curriculum and media is a universal phenomenon. Few women are producers of information technology, whether as Internet content providers, programmers, designers, inventors, or fixers of computers. In addition, women are also conspicuously absent from decision-making structures in information technology in developing countries.

Women Internet users in developing countries are not representative of women in the country as a whole, but are restricted to part of a small, urban educated elite.... By regions, women are 22 percent of all Internet users in Asia, 38 percent of those in Latin America, and 6 percent of Middle Eastern users. No regional figures by sex are available for Africa. [source]

Elsewhere, however, women are using information technology as a means of empowerment. Women in Iran use blogs to talk about subjects that may not be discussed publicly. On the Internet, women have public, free expression “for the first time in the contemporary history of Iran.” [source]

Last modified on January 19, 2006 6:32 PM

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