CNNIC, The China National Network Information Centre, released its semi-annual report on Internet development in China on Wednesday.
The report says by June 30 China had 710 million Internet users, suggesting 51.7% of Chinese had access to Internet. Internet penetration rate rose 1.4% year-on-year, maintaining the slow and stable growth trend of Internet penetration.
According to the official data, 656 million people use cell phones to go online, accounting for 92.5% of all Chinese internet users. About 37 million was added to the cell phone internet user base from the end of 2015.
Improved network infrastructure
One underlying reason for the huge mobile user population is the 3G/4G network, which significantly raised mobile network speed. By June, 91.7% of Chinese mobile netizens accessed the Internet via the 3G/4G network, rising 2.9% from the end of 2015.
Wi-Fi coverage was expanded in houses and public places, as cell phones, tablets and PCs were used more and more frequently. 92.7% of netizens used Wi-Fi to access the Internet.
Better network infrastructure makes users stay glued to the screens. In the first half of 2016, the average online duration per netizen in China was 26.5 hours, 0.3 hours longer than that in 2015.
What do people do with the Internet?
The dominance of basic applications continued, as instant messaging, search engines, and network news ranks among the top three most used applications by both PC and cell phone users, the same as in 2015. The usage rate for instant messaging, search engines, and network news are at 90.4%, 83.5%, and 81.6% respectively.
It is noteworthy that online food delivery and Internet wealth management are the two categories that witnessed fastest growth. The growth rates for food delivery and wealth management were at 31.8% and 12.3 from half a year ago.
What’s holding back the Internet penetration in rural areas?
Internet users both grew in urban and rural areas in the first half of 2016, but the growth rate is obviously higher in urban China, making the gap between urban and rural areas even wider. 67.2% of urban residents had access to Internet, a rise of 1.4% from the end of 2015. Meanwhile, the Internet penetration rate in rural China is 31.7%, representing a 0.1% increase.
According to the report, the top three factors that hold back Internet penetration in rural China are lack of computer/Internet knowledge, rural residents being either too young or too old, and a shortage of time.
（Top photo from www.pixabay.com）