Internet subscribers and users: What is the difference and why does it matter?

Posted on April 14, 2014  /  1 Comments

The 2013 Central Bank of Sri Lanka report is being sourced for the claim that one in ten Sri Lankans is on the Internet.

But this number comes from adding apples and oranges: most individually used mobile broadband connections and mostly collectively used fixed connections. Now with 4G and 3G dongles around in large numbers, one has difficulty making this distinction with mobile: quite a number of 4G boxes and 3G dongles are directly substituting for fixed connections.

So what we should ask is what we know about Internet users, rather than Internet subscribers. Here, there is another problem: we have data from household surveys (2012 Census), but one cannot easily derive individual user numbers from household numbers.

In 2012 (long time ago in Internet time), 11.4 percent of Sri Lanka households accessed the Internet from their homes. Another 12.7 percent of households reported accessing the Internet from locations outside the home (office, communication center, etc.). So that is close one in four households reporting Internet use. Back in 2012. So the current numbers should be much higher.

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