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Q: Internet usage ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Internet usage
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: telleroftales-ga
List Price: $4.50
Posted: 05 Aug 2003 16:50 PDT
Expires: 04 Sep 2003 16:50 PDT
Question ID: 240470
I need a graph from a reliable source showing historic Internet usage
from approx. 1990 to present.
Subject: Re: Internet usage
Answered By: ephraim-ga on 05 Aug 2003 18:25 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Telleroftales,

If you don't mind paying for your data, you may want to contact
Nielsen/NetRatings and ask if they have a report available for
purchase which may answer some of your questions. They have an
affiliation with the same Nielsen groups which compile
industry-standard reliable viewer statistics on television in the USA.
Their web address is here:

[ ]

If you'd rather not pay for your data, I can recommend the following
sites which have plenty of data compiled about internet growth during
the past 22 years.

The following is a report on data regarding internet activity
worldwide which has the graph you are looking for:

[ ]
Growth of internet hosts from 1991 - 2003

Note that this report also has many other statistical graphs which may
or may not be of interest to you. The graph most relevant to your
question shows the growth of hosts connected to the internet from 1991
- 2002. There is also a data set showing the internet host count from
1981 to 2002.

The report above cites its source as the yearly survey of the Internet
Software Consortium (Network Wizards) [ ] (The data here may be
newer than what is presented in the graph.) The methodology used by
this group is described at [ ].
The survey appears to use data from the DNS (Domain Name system) for
compiling its statistics and due to various issues that arose in the
use of this data, they changed their methodology for compiling these
statistics in 1987 and 1997. An explanation of the 1997 change can be
found on the methodology page. ISC has their own graph of their data
at [ ].

Full information on the survey is available at [ ]. According to their FAQ at [ ], "There is no way to determine how
many users are on the net, besides making guesses and estimates."

Another useful set of data and graphs may be found at [ ]. Close to the bottom
of this rather long paper is a graph showing host growth from October
1990 to October 2002. He also shows Internet network growth and WWW
site growth in graphical format. All his sources are cited at the
bottom of the paper and they appear to be reliable.

Search strategy used:

[ ://
Google search: "growth of internet" + graph

I hope this helps your research. Please ask for clarification if


Request for Answer Clarification by telleroftales-ga on 07 Aug 2003 11:56 PDT
Ephraim: Excellent answer. Very helpful. Was trying to avoid paying as
my reserach budget is limited. ;-) More specifically, it would be
useful to have data on the number of users/people on the Internet from
1990 to present. If this was broken out by home vs. office use, that
would also be helpful. Is anything like that available?

Clarification of Answer by ephraim-ga on 07 Aug 2003 13:03 PDT

Thanks for the tip!

Just about every search I've done for the number of users has pointed
me back at the number of hosts. Getting the actual number of people
using the internet is tough because it can never be more than an
estimate. Here are some reasons that this is a tough number to gauge:

* In the United States, familes will "share" one e-mail account and
internet connection. On the opposite end, you have people with
multiple e-mail addresses connections in more than one location.

* Outside the USA, some countries have similar issues, but in others
people rely on local internet cafes for access instead of a connection
in the home. This makes it even tougher to see how many people use the

* Finally, we have reached an age where more and more devices are
wired. If a mobile phone's messaging system is tied into the internet,
does that mean that the phone's user is an internet user?

* All of the above makes a breakdown by home/office use even tougher.
The same person may be using the internet at home and in the office.
Do we count them once? Twice? What about in countries where internet
use is neither home- nor office-based, but is instead through internet
cafes and phone-based web browsers?

Here's a reference to an article detailing parts of the problem: [

The relevant quote from this article is: "Owing to the distributed
man-agement of the Internet and the World Wide Web, it is very
difficult to obtain hard numbers about the size of the Web or the
number of users. (The number of users on the Internet, often estimated
to be in the tens of millions, is itself a con-tentious issue, with
some estimates  claiming this number to be an over-estimate by perhaps
as much as an order of magnitude.)"

One source for an estimate of the number of users on the internet is
at [ ] I make no claim about
the accuracy of statements on this site, but he does reference his
source for a graph of users on the internet. The graph's statistics
are attributed to a book called "The Digital Economy" by Dan Tapscott.
Tapscott's methods for getting these numbers are questionable...he's
basically using a equation, which if followed through, would result in
more internet users than human beings on Earth by 2010.

Basically, nobody knows the exact number of people on the internet.
Anybody who claims to have a definitive answer is giving you a very
subjective estimate.

Here's one final search which has links to other people's estimates of
the size of the internet in various years, but also links to articles
(some of them 10 years old) which clearly explain the difficulty of
making this estimate:

[ ://
Google Search: "number of users on the internet"

I hope this helps you in your research!

telleroftales-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Very helpful.

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