China welcomed its billionth netizen in the first half of 2021

297M are rural, 983M use instant messaging, 469M order food online, and they average 26.9 hours online every week


More than a billion Chinese citizens now use the internet, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre's 48th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China.

The report indicates China passed the billion-user mark in the first half of 2021, during which 21.75 million people came online to create a total user population of 1.011 billion as of June 31.

Mobile devices connect 1.007 billion of them to the 'net. Desktop PCs account for 34.6 per cent of users, laptops 30.8 per cent and tablets 24.9 per cent respectively.

The most popular uses of the internet will not surprise – 983 million people use instant messaging, 888 million watch short videos online and 812 million shop online.

Almost half – 469 million – order food online, and the sector attracted 49 million more customers in the first half of 2021.

Speed is not an issue, as 91 per cent of all that surfing and gawping and shopping happens at over 100 megabits per second.

A tick over four billion IPv6 addresses are in use and 31.36 million domain names have been registered.

All of the above sees the average Chinese citizen spend 26.9 hours online each and every week. Average use times are down from a peak of over 30 hours a week in 2020 – probably reflecting lockdowns in the first half of that year.

Beijing won't be entirely happy with this year's time online numbers, as games ranked in the top four categories of most-used apps. China's masters don't think games are a good use of time, and worry they produce insufficiently engaged citizens.

But they will be pleased that of the 174 million smartphones sold in the first half of the year, 128 million included 5G radios – a year-on-year increase of 100.9 per cent. China sees the ubiquitous connectivity that 5G provides as a big part of its plan to develop a networked economy, and the report is full of references to how its data illustrates that the nation is on its way to achieving its goals.

In a similar vein, India last week released telecoms subscription data for the month ended June 31st, 2021. The nation has 1.202 billion phone subscriptions, 1.18 billion of them using wireless devices.

Broadband subscriptions reached 792.8 million, with 768 million of those also relying on mobile phones for their connection. ®

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