Chinese Internet Adoption Slows to a Crawl

By Matt Paulson July 22, 2014

For the past several years, Chinese citizens have been taking to the Internet like wildfire. This rapid growth has cemented the country as the reigning champion for having the largest Internet population in the world. However, this expansion appears to have hit a minor stumbling block, due to the fact that most of the larger cities are already connected. A large majority of the remaining potential Internet users are in rural locations where the Internet is hard to build out to, and the added fact that these residents have a low level of education means that they have very few reasons to want or use an Internet connection in the first place.

This slowdown is starting to show its signs with the fact that only 14.4 million new Chinese Internet users were added in the first half of 2014, which marks the lowest half-year growth in eight years. This brings the total number of Internet users in China to 632 million as of June. While this is still the largest number of users in any one country, the total Internet penetration rate is still just shy of 47 percent. In the United States, the penetration rate exceeds 87 percent.

Most of China's growth had taken place in urban areas, which has evolved to become a much more mature Internet market. The onset of smartphones helped extend this growth, and their popularity has surpassed even the rate at which desktop and notebook PCs access the Internet. However, both of these markets are becoming quite saturated, and the fact that rural residents show little demand for the Internet makes the expensive process of building out to them a fool's errand.

Finding a cheap way to expand to these customers like through microwave wireless transmitters could be a possible solution in the near future, but the more reliable solution appears to be an increase in educational services that focus on teaching rural elementary students Internet skills. While effective, this process could take several years to reach fruition.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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