The number of individual users accessing the Internet worldwide is expected to grow four fold to 500 million by 2005.
But the US market will be saturated after 2002, and western Europe will experience the most growth, with 150 million users going online by 2005 compared to 23 million now, according to market research company, Ovum, in its report, "Internet Market Forecasts: Global Internet Forecasts 1998-2005".
However, growth will depend on investment in infrastructure as traffic and subsequent bandwidth demands rise by an estimated 50 to 100 times over the next seven years. The heaviest demands on the network will come from the corporate marketplace, but the introduction of higher speed consumer access devices will also increase pressure.
But analysts differ in their projections for Internet usage. IDC predicts there will be one billion users over the next 10 years, while Dataquest estimates that the European Internet market will grow to 69 million by 2002.
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