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(June 28, 2001) HONG KONG -- Access to the Internet from a home PC is significantly higher in the Asian markets of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea than in the Pacific nations of Australia and New Zealand.

However, "Aussies" and "Kiwis" are far more likely to purchase online than their Asian counterparts, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, which conducted 41,000 interviews in 27 countries worldwide during the first quarter of this year. The research showed 429 million people around the globe now have access to the Web.

The U.S. and Canada still account for the largest proportion of the world's Internet access (total of 41%), but Asia/Pacific is catching up fast with the region now accounting for one-fifth of global Internet access.

"One-third of all households in Asia/Pacific now have Internet access via a home PC, compared to just over a quarter of European households and nearly half of American homes," said Hugh Bloch, managing director, ACNielsen, Hong Kong.

He doesn't expect U.S. domination to last too much longer, "as the other regions are expected to grow much more quickly. For instance, we expect another 12% of homes in Asia/Pacific to acquire Internet access over the next 12 months, compared with a 9% increase in Europe and even lower growth in the U.S."

South Korea dominates Asia/Pacific in terms of the number of households with home Web access, accounting for 45% of the number of households with home-PC access in the region. Together, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia account for 86% of the total number of people with home PC Internet access in the region.

Use of mobile phones is also booming in Asia/Pacific. Three out of four households in the region now have a mobile phone, although penetration of mobile telephones among individuals is greater in Asia than in the Pacific.

In Asia, around one quarter of homes with mobile telephones have at least three mobiles. Hong Kong has the highest level of household and personal penetration of mobile telephones and has maintained that position over the past three quarters. New Zealand has shown a relatively strong increase (7%) in rate of use of a mobile telephone by people 16 years or older since the end of 2000. -- Normandy Madden

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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