Report: the Net goes international

The State of the Internet Report 2000, released by the US Internet Council, draws conclusions based on its own research and the research of a number of organisations and information technology industry monitors that have released reports over the past several months. This year's report pays more attention to the use of the Internet outside North America (defined as the US and Canada) than the council's State of the Internet Report 1999.

This year's State of the Internet report says 304 million people worldwide use the Internet on a frequent basis for business, research, shopping, personal correspondence, social interactions, entertainment, communications and information-sharing functions of every description. This is an increase from the 171 million estimated users worldwide last year.

Less than half of the current 304 million users -- about 136 million -- are located in North America, and the number of users outside North America is expected to grow, the report concludes. Quoting figures compiled this year by Nua Internet Surveys, the report says there are 83 million users in Europe and 69 million users in Asia. Combined, the two regions have about 16 million more users than North America. The report also notes that there are 11 million users in Latin America and about 2.5 million users in Africa.

The report also notes the growing use in Europe of cell phones as an Internet device as another indication that the Internet is becoming less US-centric.

Users who are native English speakers comprise a little more than half of all Internet users. However, English is expected to remain the dominant language of the Internet because of the number of Internet users who speak English as a second language and because of the number of Web sites hosted in the US. However, non-English Web sites and content, along with more sites hosted outside English-speaking countries, continues to grow, according to the report.

Currently, 78 percent of all Web sites are in English and 96 percent of all electronic commerce Web sites are in English. Seventy percent of all Web sites are hosted in the US, the report says.

The US Internet Council was formed in 1996 as a nonpartisan-educational resource for policy makers. Its mission is to provide reliable information and analysis on Internet policy issues, primarily to US state legislators.

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Margret Johnston

PC World

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