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Controversy Emerges Over Czech Online Population Estimates

A recently published IDC report has led to an argument over the true figure representing the online population in the Czech Republic.

The IDC says there are about 292,000 Czech Internet users, and the number grows by 30.7 percent every year. The companies operating the most important Czech Web servers strongly disagree with the IDC results, claiming that IDC underestimated the size of the Internet audience in the country. They claim as many as 700,000 Czechs are online.

Just a few days after the publication of IDC results, three of the most influential personalities in the Czech Internet market issued a common statement. Ivo Lukacovic of Seznam, Ondrej Neff of Neviditelny pes and Patrik Zandl of Mobil server declared that they regard IDC figures as "mere nonsense."

"Median agency conducting classic public opinion survey found that 5 per cent of Czech population use Internet, which means more than 500.000 users," said three Czech Internet pundits in their statement. "Moreover, the DCCI agency working with unambiguous identification of user connecting to the host, found more than 700.000 unique users of Seznam server only during September 1999."

"Based on these figures, we believe that there is more than 600.000 users of Czech Internet with 80% yearly growth IDC has started to protect its results immediately."

IDC said that it has observed the Czech IT market for more than 10 years. Its report also said that its PC installed base as 1.1 million units. The company believes it is impossible to have 50 or 70 per cent of online PCs in the Czech Republic -- according to this index, Western Europe doesn't exceed 30 percent in PC-Internet use correlation.

The discussion about proper methodology and results now continues on several Czech Web sites. The obvious reasons of different estimates were disclosed, including the varying definitions and qualifications of an Internet user. IDC defines an Internet user as a person who "has been connected to the Internet at least once in the last six months."

One method suggested for a rough estimate of the user base is to how to take the number of IP addresses and multiply by three. On the basis of of the last RIPE hostcount report, this method gives approximately 350,000 users in the Czech Republic with 48 percent annual growth rate.