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860 Million Internet Users and Growing

China and India—the two population powerhouses in Asia—are home to some 860 million Internet users. And that number is only growing.

The United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is reporting that these two behemoths account for almost 30% of the world’s total, and 66% of Internet users in the Asia–Pacific region.

According to the agency, penetration rates are vastly different in the two countries, though; with rates of Internet users in China at 46%, and in India with a considerably lower 18%.

Surprisingly, India has one of the lowest rates in the Asia–Pacific region. Actually, in all of the world. Only Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Solomon Islands recorded a lower proportion of Internet users.

Obviously income equality is one of the biggest causes of the disparities in India. Nevertheless, entry-level, fixed-broadband prices offered in these countries are extremely low, and there is very little margin left to squeeze to achieve lower prices.

The mobile Internet market is by far the hugest disparity when comparing developed markets to those underdeveloped. The ITU report reveals that there is an 84% penetration in mature economies, compared to a 21% penetration rate in emerging economies.

In September, Chinese officials announced that it plans to invest 2 trillion yuan (US$323 billion) to advance its broadband capabilities by 2020. Their lofty goals aim to put almost the entire population of China online (although the meaning is on the “China Wide Web,” with all of its lovely restrictions and blacklisted sites, and not the actual World Wide Web).

India government officials have also expressed their desire to provide digital access to all of its citizens including the rural poor, recently launching its “Digital India” initiative in an attempt to help jump-start the Internet revolution there.

From a purely business standpoint, the opportunities and the ability to reach 860 million people alone in just two countries is incredible. Just imagine all the future Internet stars like this guy in the making. Millions of budding, talented (?) unknowns waiting to cash in on the phenomena that is the Internet.  I guess the sky’s the limit, as they say…

H/T: The BRICS Post