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According to Worldwide Online Access: 2004-2010 the world reached a milestone late in 2005 as Internet access became available to one billion people worldwide, with approximately 845 million using it regularly.
"The US is the single country with the largest Internet population with 175.4 million Internet users at the end of 2005, followed by China at 111 million," says Ben Macklin, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the report. "Despite China's continuing strong Internet growth, eMarketer expects the US to maintain its lead over China, at least until the end of the decade."
Broadband access also continues to grow and to account for an ever–larger percentage of total Internet access
"At the end of 2005 there were 195 million broadband households worldwide, up from 142 million in 2004, an increase of 37%," says Mr. Macklin. "Despite a maturing broadband sector in Western Europe, North America and some parts of Asia, the large populations of China, India, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico, all of which which saw strong broadband growth in 2005, will ensure that global broadband subscriber growth remains in double digits for many years to come."
eMarketer estimates that there were 108.1 million broadband users in the US at the end of 2005. There were 48 million broadband subscriber lines and 43.7 million households with broadband access.
"It is no surprise that dial-up Internet acecss is quickly being replaced by broadband. Not perhaps as quickly in the US, as in other markets though," says Mr. Macklin.
eMarketer estimates that at the end of 2005 over 40% of US online households were still using dial-up. This will decline to less than 15% of online households by 2010.
When will the Internet 'max-out' in the US?
"Based on current growth rates, that is unlikely to occur over the next five years but a completely saturated market is very likely to be when 80% of all households have Internet access, rather than 100%," says Mr. Macklin. "There will always be a section of the population that sees no value going online or who use the Internet so infrequently that they wouldn't fall under eMarketer's definition of an Internet user."
eMarketer forecasts by 2010 there will be 173.5 million broadband users in the US, up from 108.1 million in 2005.
"Despite the dominance of cable Internet as the broadband access technology of choice in North America, asynchronous digital subscriber line (ADSL) completely dominates the global landscape, making up approximately 66% of all broadband connections worldwide," says Mr. Macklin. "Alternative broadband technologies such as satellite, fixed wireless or powerline technologies have not made any significant headway in any country around the world."
The only alternative broadband technology of note is fiber (fiber-to-the-home, FTTH). In Japan FTTH adoption is approaching 5 million households, equating to nearly a quarter of all broadband households. Likewise, in South Korea, and China a fiber/LAN solution to apartment buildings has garnered significant numbers of subscribers and is becoming a viable alternative to ADSL in densely populated metropolitan centers.
"WiMAX, the fat cousin to WiFi, providing more bandwidth and a greater range, should emerge in 2006 and 2007 as a genuine alternative broadband solution to existing wireline technologies," says Mr. Macklin. "Already in South Korea, Australia and parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe wireless broadband solutions have entered the market and once the standards-based WiMAX is fully ratified and WiMAX-ready products come to market, the technology should garner support. It is, however, too early to predict its impact."
Be prepared for the Internet of the future, read the new eMarketer report, Worldwide Online Access: 2004-2010 today.
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