By Wang Xiang | 2010-7-15 | ONLINE EDITION
THE number of China's Internet users increased by 36 million in the first half of this year compared to the end of last year, reaching 420 million, China's Internet Network Information Center said today.
Of those, over 98.1 percent have access to broadband and about 66 percent - or 277 million people – connect to the web through mobile phone, according to the center, known as CNNIC.
But the connection speed in China was an average 857kbps, way slower than in South Korea or the United States, China News Service reported today. The average time people spent on the Internet reached 19.8 hours every week.
In the first half of 2010, 43.34 million new customers logged onto the Internet for the first time through handheld devices. Over 11.7 percent of web users surf online by mobile phones.
Last year's rush for handheld access to the Internet was ebbing this year because of high costs for 3G service, the report said.
The engine driving Internet growth in China appeared to be social networking and online shopping in the six months, the report said. Users of online banks increased about 30 percent.
The rapid growth of Internet was even straining resources, the report said. The current Internet network layer protocol - Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), was at the point of being exhausted.
However, the first half saw a decline in the total number of domain names registered in China, partly because of a crackdown on porn and unhealthy information.