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RealTime IT News

Number of Czech Internet Users Rapidly Growing, Says IDC

International Data Corp. (IDC) estimated that the number of Czech Internet users would grow 30.7 percent annually over the next five years, with some one million Czechs online by 2003.

According to IDC's latest report, there are currently more than 292,000 Internet users in the country. With total population of 10.3 million, it means the penetration less than 3 percent.

Students form almost one half (47.6 percent) of all users. Colleges and universities, as well as most of high schools in the Czech Republic, provide free access to Internet for their students.

The most important obstacle to further development of Czech Internet community is the high price of telecom services. On the other hand, IDC projects that lowering of phone prices, a strong marketing campaign from telco monopoly SPT Telecom, increasing numbers of access points and Internet-ready PCs are all factors that will advance the use of the Internet in the near future.

The largest ISP in the Czech Republic is university network TEN-155 CZ with 140,000 users, mostly students. Second is SPT Telecom, which provides Internet services through its subsidiary Internet On Line (IOL). IOL is country's largest provider of paid Internet services with market share of 16.8 percent.

E-commerce is still in its early phase in the Czech Republic. According to IDC, there are some 400 Czech companies selling their goods and services online, accounting for about Kc 42 million ($1.2 million) in goods sold by the end of the year.

There are several barriers to the real growth of e-commerce, aside from low Internet penetration. In a survey by Czech computer industry magazine Softwarove noviny, 87 percent of respondents said that they felt "fear" when using online payment systems. Hesitation and mistrust of payment cards are critical obstacles which must be overcome for the e-commerce to catch on in the republic.