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Asia/Pacific will leap-frog the US to become the world's largest Internet market within three years, according to the latest number crunching from analysts at Gartner Dataquest.

They predict that by 2003, Asia/Pacific will have 183.3 million Net subscribers, compared to 162.8 million in the US and 162.2 million in Europe.

Analysts predict that the Asia/Pacific region will more than double is Net user subscriber base in three years far outstripping demand elsewhere in the world.

By 2005, forecasters reckon the region will boast almost 250 million subscribers.

Despite Asia/Pacific's growth, it's predicted that the US Net access market will be worth $21.2 billion - $4 billion more than Asia/Pacific.

"This differential between subscribers and access revenue illustrates a major reason why Internet use is still growing rapidly in Asia/Pacific; the region has some of the lowest Internet access rates in the world, and prices are still coming down as result of competition or, in some cases, government direction,'' said Andrew Chetham, a senior analyst at Gartner Dataquest.

"There is a clear pent-up desire [of] vast numbers of people in Asia/Pacific to go online.

"Falling prices and improved infrastructure, especially in countries with big populations like China and India, are a recipe for encouraging large numbers of new subscribers," he said.

By 2005, Gartner reckons Japan and China will account for two out of every three Net users in the Asia/pacific region. ®

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