China Tops 250 Million Internet Users

China reasserted itself as the world's largest Internet market with 253 million total users by the end of June, the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said Wednesday in its semiannual report (Chinese).

However, despite maintaining its dominance over the U.S., total Internet penetration remains below 20 percent, reaching just 19.1 percent of the population, the report said. CNNIC defines an Internet user as anyone age 6 and above who used the Internet at least once per month for any purpose, accessing the Internet from a desktop computer, laptop or mobile phone.

China added 43 million new users during the first half of 2008. Gender balance is now almost equal, with women accounting for 46.4 percent of all users. Chinese Internet users remain a predominantly young group. Users aged 24 and under account for almost exactly half of the total, with 49.4 percent. Users aged 30 and under comprised 68.6 percent of the total, and 35 and under were 79.6 percent of the country's total user population.

China's Internet population is also in the fast lane: 214 million, or 84.7 percent of all users, are connecting via broadband. CNNIC defined broadband as ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) or cable modem and higher speeds.

The report said that during the six-month period, 28.9 percent of users, about 73 million connected to the Internet via a mobile phone at some point, and said that mobile-phone Internet access had become an "important" market segment.

For the first time, CNNIC gave a detailed look at the methodology for its survey. It said that it polled 16,000 Netizens, which were classified according to their residence and connectivity, representing a fairly large survey sample. Although it did not include the margin of error for the semi-annual survey, normal polling methods can achieve a 5 percent plus or minus margin of error with a sample of around 330. It did not say how the respondents were contacted.

CNNIC is a quasi-government organization, charged with compiling information on Internet population and use in China.

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