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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Asia-Pacific net surge forecast
Cyber cafe in Taiwan
The region has relatively cheap rates for internet access
The Asia-Pacific region is set to overtake the United States as the world's largest internet market in two years, according to a US-based research firm.

Led by China and Japan, the region will have 183.3 million internet subscribers in 2003, compared with 162.8 million in the US, and 162.2 million in western Europe, according to projections by Gartner Dataquest analysts.

Internet subscribers
Japan: 24.4m
South Korea: 16.7m
China: 14.6m
Source: Gartner, Dec 2000
But the US will continue to lead in terms of revenue, says the report.

By 2005, the internet access market in the US will be worth an estimated $21.2bn, compared to $17.2bn in the Asia-Pacific.

"This differential between subscribers and access revenue illustrates a major reason why internet use is still growing rapidly in Asia-Pacific," said Andrew Chetham, a senior analyst with Gartner.

"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," he added.

"There is a clear pent-up desire by vast numbers of people in Asia-Pacific to go online."

Big players

By the end of 2000, the number of internet subscribers in the region was 78 million - up 65% from 47.4 million users at the end of 1999. The number is forecast to reach 248 million by 2005.

Japan has the most internet users - 24.4 million by last December - followed by South Korea with 16.7 million and China with 14.6 million.

China will catch up with Japan by 2003, and by 2005 the two countries will have a combined total of 151.5 million subscribers, making up 61% of users in the region, according to Gartner.

See also:

26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's net generation
20 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China acts on net 'addicts'
18 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China internet growth slows
29 Apr 01 | Media reports
China internet cafe debate hots up
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