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Gartner Dataquest: APAC Will Overtake U.S. In Subscriber Figures By 2003

Research firm Gartner Dataquest is predicting that Asia Pacific Internet subscriber numbers will hit 248 million by 2005 but not before overtaking the U.S. as the world's largest Internet market with 183.3 million subscribers within a mere three years in 2003.

Gartner Dataquest envisions the U.S. as lagging behind in subscriber numbers - 162.8 million compared to Asia Pacific's 183.3 million in 2003 - but forging ahead in terms of access revenue generated by subscribers.

"Asia Pacific will still lag behind the U.S. by a big margin for at least another five years. By 2005, the Asia Pacific Internet access market will be worth US$17.2 billion, whereas the U.S. will still have a distinct lead with US$21.2 billion," a company statement read.

Said Andrew Chetham, senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest's Asia Pacific Telecommunications and Networking group, "This differential between subscribers and access revenue illustrates a major reason why Internet use is still growing rapidly in Asia Pacific; the region has some of the lowest Internet access rates in the world, and prices are still coming down as result of competition or, in some cases, government direction.

He added that there exists pent-up desire by vast populations in Asia Pacific to go online. "Falling prices and improved infrastructure, especially in countries with big populations like China and India, are recipes for encouraging large numbers of new subscribers," he said.

At the end of 2000, Internet subscribers in the Asia Pacific region numbered 78 million, a 65 percent increase over the 1999 figure of 47.4 million subscribers. The top-four countries of Japan (24.4 million subscribers), South Korea (16.7 million subscribers), China (14.6 million subscribers) and Taiwan (4.6 million subscribers) accounted for 76 percent of the region's Internet subscribers in 2000.

Gartner Dataquest forecasts that India will record the highest growth rates in the APAC region, seeing an average subscriber growth of 44 percent year on year from this year through to 2005. India will have 21.3 million subscribers, making it the fourth-largest Internet market in this region after China, Japan and South Korea.

And by 2005, Japan and China combined will have approximately 151.5 million subscribers out of the region's 248 million subscribers, representing about 61 percent of the total Asia Pacific subscriber base.