State of the Internet 2000

United States Internet Council




Why this study? 

In April 1999, the United States Internet Council released our first "State of the Internet" report to summarize key trends in the development of a social, political, and economic communications revolution that has emerged on the world stage in just a few years. 

When President Bill Clinton took office in January 1993, most Americans outside of government and academic circles were completely unaware of the Internet as it then existed.  Perhaps fewer than 90,000 people worldwide used the net at that time on a regular basis. 

In the summer of 2000, industry monitors estimate more than 300 million people worldwide are using the net on a frequent basis for business, research, shopping, personal correspondence, social interactions, entertainment, listening to radio, and communications and information-sharing functions of every description. 

The number of people using this still-young medium has grown in a geometric progression.  The current online population is more than 3,000 times the number of people who were online just seven years ago. 

Five years from now, some industry estimates predict that the number of users worldwide will pass the one-billion mark, with more than 700 million users living outside of North America.   Already, users who speak English as their primary language constitute only a little more than half of all persons using the net.  Those who speak English as a second language and the number of web sites hosted in the U.S. are two factors that will continue to support the dominance of English on the Internet for a few more years to come.  Nevertheless, the trend noted in our 1999 report to more non-English web sites and content, along with more sites hosted outside English-speaking countries, continues to be a prominent feature in this year's analysis. 

For these reasons, this year's report contains far more information about global trends and emerging Internet markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific Rim.  While the net continues to be heavily influenced by American use and culture, the diversity of net users continues last year's trends in every way. 

This summer, for the first time, women using the net have surpassed men in the United States.  Racial, economic, and other manifestations of what was called the "digital divide" in our 1999 report continue to show that the diversity of users is accelerating. 

Our last section, "Looking Forward," presents some of our recommendations for both government policy and self-regulatory frameworks that are being developed by industry. 

In this regard, it is useful and important for officials in government and users of the Internet alike to recognize that just as the net is changing the way we live our lives, it will also fundamentally challenge and change how we govern. 

Those nations, states, corporations, and citizens who adapt to the net's constant innovation will continue to thrive.

William C. Myers                                 Charles W. Dyke

Chief Executive Officer                         President and CEO

United States Internet Council               International Technology

& Trade Associates, Inc.


Preface & Acknowledgments 

            The Internet has become a powerful research tool.  With over 2 billion unique, indexable pages, the Internet today offers what often seems to be an unending reservoir of information and knowledge.  This year’s “State of the Internet 2000” report was researched primarily on the Internet, drawing from media and other publicly available resources.  The authors have also included personal insights and applied their expertise in a concise and targeted manner to provide an easily accessible overview of the state of the Internet and the forces, practices, and technologies that are changing this dynamic medium.  The report itself employs parenthetical references by section.  A full list of references is included at the end of the report.  Any omissions or oversights are the responsibility of the report’s authors. 

            This year’s report was written and researched by International Technology and Trade Associates (ITTA), Inc., for the United States Internet Council.  ITTA writers included Douglas F. Ramsey (Analyst), Erica Colberg (Analyst), and George M. Dryden (Manager, Defense and Government Systems).  Section 3.3 (Wireless) was written by Robert G. Allen, Director of the ITTA Telecommunications Consulting Group and section 3.4 (Broadcasting) was written by Kara Steele, Executive Director of the Center for the New West.  Section 5. (Looking Forward) was provided by the staff of the U.S. Internet Council which include CEO Bill Myers, Vice President Mark Q. Rhoads, and Senior Fellow Gordon S. Jones, who also provided editorial support. 

            ITTA Inc. ( is an international business consulting company with offices in Washington, D.C., and Brussels, Belgium.  ITTA is a U.S. Internet Council corporate member and represents the Council internationally.

Executive Summary 

            This year’s report, The State of the Internet 2000, provides an overview of the continuing expansion of the Internet and gives special attention to the increasingly international nature of the Internet.  The Internet has far surpassed its humble beginnings as the Department of Defense’s ARPANET.  It has become truly global in scope, growing more so with each passing day.  The Internet draws people of all countries, cultures, and languages.  This year over 300 million people are online, with fewer than half from North America.  This gap is expected to widen further, as the world’s online population becomes more nationally and culturally diverse and less “U.S.-centric.” 

            The Global Growth section focuses on emerging Internet populations in various regions of the world.  Online growth in areas such as the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America has surpassed expectations as e-commerce initiatives and personal Internet use have blossomed.  Despite the bright outlook for continued Internet penetration, there is a significant global digital divide, primarily between the North and South.  For example, only 1.5 million people are online in Africa, 1 million of whom are in South Africa.  Poverty and inadequate telecommunications infrastructure in the developing world must be alleviated in order for Internet use to become fully established. 

            The section on Social Trends provides a discussion of the fundamental changes taking place in the way people communicate and conduct business.  Although the digital divide still exists in the U.S., tremendous strides have been made in eliminating it, thus permitting more Americans to communicate via the Internet and opening up a world of new opportunities to low-income families.  The Internet is quickly becoming an essential part of every classroom as students at all levels of education utilize it to do research and participate in a variety of online educational activities.  Additionally, the emergence of virtual communities has drawn the world closer together as people from all walks of life may speak to each other in chat rooms and find a community with similar interests. 

            As highlighted in the Technology section, new technologies continue to transform how the Internet is used.  Technologies such as XML, wireless Internet, and encryption are being standardized, thus strengthening e-commerce initiatives and other Internet activities.  Alongside these new technologies, however, come new threats such as cyber-terrorism.  The U.S. and the international community have made significant advances in tracking and halting hacking and other forms of cyber-terrorism.  

            Perhaps the E-Business section provides the best glimpse into the future of the Internet, which has given industry an entirely new way of conducting business.  Companies have revolutionized industry practices, creating greater efficiency and monetary savings.  E-commerce has similarly exploded with online retailing and industry marketplaces.  Business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce promise to continue seizing an increasingly larger share of the goods and services market in the coming years.  Outside the U.S., companies have begun to take note of the online successes of North American businesses and are starting to follow suit. 

            The concluding section, entitled Looking Forward, examine future government and industry Internet challenges.  Although most governments have maintained a laissez-faire approach to the online industry, there is more and more pressure by citizens concerned about privacy and security for some degree of regulation and monitoring.  Within the U.S. and European countries, legislative bodies have already instituted minor measures geared towards the protection of personal information.  Without a doubt, greater Internet regulation will occur in the coming years; however, industry and government should work together to insure that any regulation fully supports the continued growth of the Internet economy while protecting the interests of individuals.  This is not just a national effort.  The countries and companies of the world must collaborate and standardize guidelines for the Internet industry to avoid costly international disputes and to continue the dissemination of Internet technology to the entire world. 

            Overall, we can safely say that the State of the Internet is good.  Rising technologies, new applications, and expanding usage indicate that the Internet will continue to grow.  Although it remains possible that governments might smother the Internet in regulation, early signs suggest that this is unlikely.  The Internet should continue to evolve into an open and global information environment, which we hope it can become. 


Table of Contents
Click on a section name to download it.
Foreword iii
Preface v
Executive Summary vii
Section 1. The Global Net 1 - 18
1.1 Global Growth 2
1.2 North America 6
1.3 Europe 9
1.4 Asia-Pacific 12
1.5 Developing Country Forecast 15
Section 2. Social Trends 19 - 32
2.1 Digital Divide 20
2.2 Virtual Communities 22
2.3 Education 24
2.4 Mobile Internet 27
2.5 Government Online 29
Section 3. Technology 33 - 44
3.1 Standards 34
3.2 Security 36
3.3 Wireless 39
3.4 Broadcasting 42
Section 4. Electronic Business 45 - 56
4.1 Internet Business Models 46
4.2 Internet Business Penetration 49
4.3 E-commerce Trends & Forecasts 51
Section 5. Looking Forward 57 - 61
References i - ix

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United States Internet Council (USIC) 

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International Technology and Trade Associates (ITTA) Inc.

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Suite 210
Washington D.C. 20036-1704
Tel: (+1) 202-828-2614
Fax: (+1) 202-828-2617


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