The number of internet users in China rose by 9.4 percent from the beginning of the year to the midpoint, and is now at 420 million, according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), and reported by TeleGeography. Many of those users are connecting from wired connections, but China has a huge population of mobile phone users who are hopping online as 3G is rolled out across the country.
Of the total Internet users, 363.8 million (or 86.6 percent) accessed the web through wired broadband, while 276.8 million (65.9 percent) used mobile handsets. The numbers don’t add up because some people have multiple connections. Telegeography reports that the average time spend surfing the web was 19.8 hours per week in China. In contrast, Americans spend an average of 13 hours online a week, according to a Harris Interactive poll from December.
The huge and growing market of web-connected Chinese is an opportunity, but it’s also should serve as a warning, as China is spending billions to deliver faster speeds to its citizens. Earlier this week, Alcatel-Lucent scored a contract with China Mobile for fiber to the home and fiber to the building technology. China Telecom wants to deliver 100 Mbps speeds by 2013 with China Mobile hoping to do the same in five years.
A huge population with 100 Mbps or more broadband speeds will help drive innovative applications that we in the U.S. won’t even be able to run in many areas of the country. And when we finally do catch up with our networks, we’ll have to look to China to discover the hottest services and the startups delivering them.