Global development of Internet to continue

Jan. 1, 1998

Global development of Internet to continue

The number of Internet users will jump from 8.6 per 100 main telephone lines in 1997 to 30 users per 100 lines by 2001, according to a forecast issued by the International Telecommunication Union, Geneva.

Challenges to the Network: Telecoms and the Internet tracks the development of the Internet globally. The report predicts that demand for Internet connections will drive the need for new telephone lines, as is happening in Sweden, the United States, and Finland.

Growth of the Internet is dependent upon the availability of telephone lines and personal computers, and the ability of people to use PCs. The report says that a feasible way to increase Internet use in developing countries is to expand existing public telecommunications services in libraries, universities, and community centers to include Internet access.

The report sees public telecommunications operators encountering competition from cable-TV operators with high-speed Internet connections and specialized modems; wireless service providers; satellite operators; and new market entrants who offer capacity resale services or "overbuild" networks.

New applications such as hypertext-linking technologies and World Wide Web browsers that have increased the accessibility of the network have helped drive Internet growth, and the report finds that new applications will be needed if growth is to continue.

Services driving Internet expansion listed in the report include the growth of Internet telephony offering telephone service at reduced cost, and increased use of the Internet by companies selling entertainment and information services. Other drivers include development of corporate intranets that use the Internet as a productivity tool in the office and combine it with information from company databases, and increased accessibility from wireless services such as mobile phones and faxes.

The mass marketing of Internet usage in the future may rely on a model similar to television broadcasting, according to the report, whereby Internet content providers would style Web pages to resemble cable-TV channels and target advertising rather than subscription revenue.

The report concludes that the significance of the Internet lies in where it will be in five to ten years, and that any future development will likely be based on the public telecommunications network. The report, available in English only, can be purchased for 100 Swiss francs (US$70) from itu Sales Service at fax: 41 22 730 5194. u

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