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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 10:25 GMT
US powers internet growth
Puerto del Sol, Madrid
Spain is "the next great internet market"
The US continues to be the driving force behind the global growth in internet use, new figures suggest.

About 10 million US adults hooked up to the internet for the first time in 2002, boosting the overall number to 168.6 million, or 79% of the population, Nielsen Netratings said.

But Nielsen pointed to Spain and Brazil as countries likely to host more spectacular internet revolutions in coming months.

While the increase in US net users represented only 3% growth year-on-year, the number of Spanish surfers soared by 22%, Thursday's survey found.

Online populations
US: 169m
Germany: 38.7m
UK: 28.0m
Italy: 23.0m
France: 21.9m

Source: Nielsen Netratings

"The report points to Spain as the next great internet market," said Nielsen spokesman Richard Goosey.

"In addition to the largest increase in percent population with internet access, Spain also had the biggest percentage increase in most of the internet activities undertaken by surfers in the last six months."

E-mail volumes rose by 6%, with chat room participation rising by 9%.

"Spain now has the highest rate of instance message usage - 49% - and chat room participation - 44% - across all countries."

Brazil, meanwhile, "displays enormous potential for future growth", Mr Goosey said.

"An additional 18% of the telephone household population there plans to acquire internet access in the next 12 months."

Winners and losers

Worldwide, the number of people with access to the internet from home hit 580 million in the October to December period, up 17 million on the quarter before.

Changes in online populations
Spain: +22%
UK, Italy: + 6%
Germany: +4%
US, Netherlands: + 3%
Hong Kong: -3%
Australia: -4%

Data: Q4 2002 compared with Q4 2001
Source: Nielsen Netratings

US surfers accounted for 29% of users, with Europe accounting for 23%.

While growth in surfer numbers the UK, Italy and Germany outpaced that in the US - on a percentage basis - the number of Hong Kong and Australian residents with internet access declined.

Mr Goosey attributed the falls to "maturity" of the markets.

With Sweden and the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Australia show the highest rates of home computer ownership, and highest proportion of PC owners who have internet connections.

Internet access hits the wall
07 Feb 03 |  Technology

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