Years of Internet in Taiwan
In June 2004,
people who have active Internet access accounts in Taiwan
surpassed 10 million, population that have used Internet reached
12.2 million, according to FIND research.
Every quarter FIND collected information about Internet
subscribers from Fixed Network Service Providers, Internet
Service Providers (ISP), Taiwan Academic Network (TANet) and
Directorate General of Telecommunications (DGT) under Ministry of
Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to analyze the Internet
applications status in Taiwan.
I - Internet Accounts/Subscribers:
Statistics showed that at the end of June 2004, there were 10.2
million Internet subscribers. Of them there were 3.74 mobile
Internet subscribers, 3.26 million dial-up subscribers, 2.82
million xDSL subscribers, 350,000 cable modem subscribers, 13,000
leased-line subscribers, 12,000 ISDN subscribers and 4,500
optical fiber subscribers.
The number of Taiwan's Internet accounts increased by at least
400,000 every quarter since the second quarter of 2003. However,
the growth slowed in the second quarter of 2004 due to the
decline in the growth of mobile Internet subscription and the
number of dial-up subscribers. The number of subscribers only
increased by 10,000 from the previous quarter.
Mobile Internet subscribers for the first outnumbered dial-up
subscribers in the second quarter of 2004 and become the most
popular method of Internet connection in Taiwan, accounting for
37% of total Internet subscribers. xDSL and cable modem
subscribers together accounted for 31% while dial-up subscribers
fell 4% to 32%. Less than 1% of subscribers adopted methods other
than the above for their Internet connection.
2 - Broadband subscribers:
Taiwan's broadband (xDSL & cable modem here) subscribers
reached 3.17 million at the end of June 2004 with an increase of
90,000, or 3%, from the previous quarter. Compared with the last
quarter of 2003 and the same period in 2003, there were 280,000
and 720,000 more subscribers respectively. This showed that the
growth of Taiwan's broadband Internet subscribers has slowed down
XDSL (mostly ADSL) has been
the main broadband connection technology in Taiwan, with 2.82
million subscribers in the second quarter of 2004. This marked a
28% growth from the same period last year and 5% growth from the
previous quarter, also indicating a slowdown in xDSL
In terms of xDSL
downloading bandwidth, there was a major change in this survey.
Previously 59% of xDSL subscribers used 512K-640K (640K not
included) and 38% used 1.5M-8M (8M not included). However, after
domestic Internet Service Providers (ISPs) started free upgrading
and price-cutting programs in February 2004, broadband services
and speed in Taiwan have been greatly improved. Currently 48% of
xDSL subscribers used 1M-1.5M (1.5M not included), up from 2% in
the first quarter of 2004. This was mainly because ISPs upgraded
512/64K subscribers to 1M/64K. This was followed by 1.5M-8M (8M
not included) subscribers which accounted for 47%. Previous
majority 512K-640K (640K not included) subscribers currently
accounted only for 4%, down from 59%. Less than 1% of xDSL
subscribers used other bandwidth.
For cable modem connection,
there were 350,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2004, up
38% from the same period a year ago but down 9% from the previous
quarter. Due to the costly duplex transmission infrastructure,
cable modem connection has not been as easy as ADSL connection.
As a result, growth was slow and there was even decline in cable
modem subscribers sometimes.
Taiwan's broadband Internet
started to take off in 1999 when cable television operators
offered cable modem Internet services and grew rapidly after
HiNet offered ADSL connection. Although cable modem was the main
broadband connection for six quarters until it was replaced by
ADSL at the end of 2000. The gap of subscription between cable
modem and ADSL was 1.76 million at the beginning of 2004 and
increased to 2.48 million in this survey. ADSL has now become the
main broadband connection in Taiwan, taking 90 percent of the
broadband market since the second quarter of 2002.
3 - Dial-up
Dial-up was one of the main
connection methods in Taiwan in the early stage of Internet and
its subscription reached an all-time high of 5.42 million in June
2001. However, dial-up connection started to decline since
September 2001 as more people switched to xDSL and cable modem
connection. There were only four million dial-up subscribers at
the end of 2003 and in the second quarter of 2004, its
subscribers declined further to 3.26 million. On average, dial-up
subscription fell by 300,000 every quarter since the third
quarter of 2003. Accumulated dial-up subscription loss in the
past year was 1.42 million.
Of Taiwan's total dial-up
users, paid subscribers accounted for about 60%, down from 80% at
the end of 2002 while free users jumped to 40% from 20 % over the
same period. With the popularity of broadband, free dial-up users
are expected to decrease as well, although in a smaller
4 - Leased line, ISDN
and satellite subscribers:
Like dial-up connection,
leased-line, ISDN and satellite subscription also declined as
users switched to xDSL and cable modem. At the end of the second
quarter of 2004, leased-line subscription was 13,000, down 4% and
18% from the previous quarter and a year before respectively.
ISDN subscription saw marginal growth to 12,000, up 4% and 1%
from the previous quarter and a year before respectively. For the
first time, optical fiber subscription was included in the
survey, with 4,500 users in Taiwan in the second quarter of
5 - Mobile Internet
DGT data showed that there
were 3.74 million mobile Internet (WAP and GPRS here) subscribers
in the second quarter of 2004, rising 8% and 118% from the
previous quarter and a year before respectively. At this rate
there will be four million mobile Internet users in Taiwan at the
end of 2004. Of mobile Internet subscribers, 97% or 3.62 million
were GPRS (general packet radio service) users while 120,000 used
WAP (wireless application protocol). Compared with the previous
quarter, GPRS users increased by 8% but WAP subscription fell 1%.
Another finding is that although the number of GPRS users
increased, its growth slowed as the market moved toward
saturation. Over one year since the second quarter of 2003, the
GPRS growth rate has plummeted to 8% from 74%.
The number of mobile
Internet subscribers jumped as a result of simple application
procedure, low fees or even free of charge. Under DGT's
definition for mobile Internet users, those who own WAP or GPRS
mobile phones and Internet accounts are mobile Internet users.
However, not all of those users are regularly connected to the
Internet. According to a FIND mobile/wireless survey in August
2004, the mobile/wireless Internet penetration rate was 8%,
showing that 1.84 million people in Taiwan have used such
service. As this number was far from DGT's 3.74 million mobile
Internet subscribers, it shows there is room to cultivate
6 - Current
Generally speaking dial-up,
broadband and mobile Internet are the main methods for Internet
connection, each with about three million subscribers. However,
users have been switching to broadband from dial-up and this
trend is expected to continue. Although the growth in broadband
connection has shown signs of slowdown, it is moving toward
high-speed broadband. Despite rapid increase in Mobile Internet
subscription in recent years, Mobile Internet applications are
not yet popular in Taiwan. Therefore the major task is to
continue upgrading Mobile Internet related content, services and
7 - Growth of Internet
ACI-FIND estimates the
number of Taiwan's regular Internet users (Note*) through
Internet subscribers. There were 8.92 million Internet users in
Taiwan as of June 2004, with Internet penetration rate at 39%.
Compared with the same period a year ago, there was an increase
of 160,000 users, with a growth rate of 2%. (Figure 4)
The number of Taiwan's
regular Internet users was just 440,000 when FIND conducted its
first survey in June 1996. The number soared to 3 million by 1998
and increased steadily till the end of 2001. Since 2002, Taiwan's
online population has started to show signs of reaching
saturation and the Internet subscription has switched from
narrowband to broadband gradually.
Another survey of FIND
found that about 12.2 million people, or 54% of Taiwan's
population, were general Internet users. In terms of gender, more
men (56%) than women (52%) used the Internet. As for age groups,
95% of people between 15 and 24 years old were Internet users but
only less than 10% of people over 60 used the Internet.
Geographically, Internet penetration rate was over 60% in
northern Taiwan while in other parts it was between 40% and 50%.
Note*: The "Regular
Internet users" in this survey indicates individuals with active
accounts to access to the Internet from home, working places or
schools. The "General Internet users" are individuals who have
ever used Internet. "Internet subscribers" are customers
(individuals, households or businesses) with ISP accounts. Some
of the Internet users have multiple accesses; and some users
share one common account. The duplicate portion has been deducted
from the count in this study. Therefore, counts of subscribers
differ from counts of users.
Source: FIND - Focus on Internet News and Data.