Friday, 17 September 2010

700% growth in Armenia’s internet penetration rate

% Pen.
GDP p.c.*
0.1 %
US$ 410
0.5 %
US$ 500
5.5 %
US$ 2,853
5.8 %
US$ 3,685
6.4 %
US$ 2,668
47.1 %
US$ 2,506

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.


  1. You know, until I see some figures from mobile operators regarding use of Internet from phone I am highly skeptical. In fact, seems to me that they just added the estimated number of people with the potential to access the Internet.

    That, however, is not the same thing, and like I said, I'd want to see a breakdown from the phone companies on how many people actually connect and, more importantly, how often because penetration also relates to that.

  2. I have some data from phone companies following my correspondence with them back in February. Hence, Vivacell claimed they have more than 600,000 internet connected mobile subscribers, Beeline didn't give any data, but they said 70% of data traffic for their 502,000 subscribers is GPRS or 3G. I can't seem to find a link, but there was a recent Orange announcement about having more than 20,000 3G subscribers. They also said all their 200,000 mobile subscribers have internet data plans of some kind.

  3. All their 200,000 subscribers had internet data plans?!?!?!? Well, that's unlikely from the start as not all of their 200,000 subscribers have phones able to access the Internet. In fact, I know quite a few of them, and even more with phones that can access the Internet who simply don't use them for doing so.

    And that's even forgetting the fact that you don't actually need to sign up for a data plan to use the Internet on a VivaCell connection. Instead of such claims, I'd like to see real data on actual traffic for subscribers. For sure, I don't see many people access the Internet on their phones.

    Hell, I think some of them even use phones for making, um, phone calls... ;)

  4. Thanks for the information..With the awareness among people about internet the use of internet has also increased rapidly..Almost seven among ten people are accessing this service..With this the work for companies has also increased and one of the biggest example is written in this above post..