Usage of internet has literally burst in the course of one year – with the internet penetration rate rising a mighty 700%, according to latest data published by the Internet World Stats (ITU), a specialized website which provides internet usage and population statistics around the world.
ITU had estimated Armenia’s internet penetration at 6.4% back in 2009, and now, with a reference to Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) data, the website says 47.1% of Armenia’s population are online.
Interestingly, on a different section of its website ITU indicates Armenia’s internet penetration rate at 7% (208,200 users), this time referencing its own estimates.
Experts in Armenia don’t seem to like either estimate, but think the 7% is closer to reality when we talk of ‘real’ internet – people connecting via a computer.
I talked to Karen Vardanian, Executive director of UITE (Union of Armenian IT Enterprises) back in May, and he seemed to agree, that 200-250 thousand estimate for internet users is more realistic. Grigor Saghian, vice-president of Armenian Internet Community NGO and technical director of Arminco, a major ISP, said in an interview, that he estimates the number of broadband internet users to be somewhere close to 90,000. Adding dial-up users to those 90-100,000 broadband users will get us to Karen Vardanian’s estimate of 200-250,000.
The question is – where did the PSRC get the remaining 1,1 million? I’m guessing – mobile internet users.
Armenia has a rather saturated mobile phone market, with the 3 mobile operators – Vivacell-MTS, Armentel-Beeline and Orange Armenia reporting as many as 2,6 million subscribers. Given the fact, that most of those phones are connected to GPRS/EDGE or 3G internet, we can easily reach the 1.4 million mark reported by PSRC.
The only question is – can we count it as real internet penetration? I’d say, yes! we can!, given the mobile internet tendencies across the world, but let’s just stay realistic about what exactly those mobile users can and cannot do online.