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25% Leap for 2006 Internet Use in China
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China registered 137 million people online by the end of last year, up by almost a quarter from 2005, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said Tuesday.

Internet usage shot up by 23.4 percent, now concerning 10.5 percent of the country's population, said the CNNIC in a report.

The statistics were based on telephone sample surveys of 32,325 Chinese, counting citizens above the age of six who use the Internet for at least one hour a week as Internet users, said the CNNIC.

Online services like e-mail, search engines, e-commerce, blogs, online news and games enjoyed rapid development, as well as new opportunities created by modern technologies, Minister of Information Industry Wang Xudong has said.

Broadband users exceeded 100 million for the first time to reach 104 million, or 75.9 percent of all Internet users.

Another 17 million Chinese went online via mobile phones, accounting for 12.4 percent of the Internet population.

High costs and low speed were major factors that impaired the development of mobile Internet, said the report.

Most of the country's Internet users were male, accounting for 58.3 percent of the total.

The report shows a yawning disparity between the urban and rural areas, with Internet use in cities 6.5 times that in the countryside.

A lack of knowledge of IT as well as inadequate access to equipment and networks remained the main stumbling blocks for those failing to get online, according to the report.

(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2007)

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