BEIJING, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- China's online population grew almost 42 percent last year to 298 million, of whom 91 percent had broadband connections, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said here Tuesday.
The rate of Internet usage reached 22.6 percent, exceeding the 21.9-percent world average for the first time, the CNNIC said in a report.
There were 13.57 million sites registered using .cn, the Chinese domain name. That figure, like the number of netizens and broadband connections, was first in the world, the center said.
Mobile phone Internet surfers more than doubled last year from 2007 to 117 million in December 2008, reflecting the expansion of the wireless network and lower cell phone prices.
"With the development of the third generation (3G) mobile network, the wireless Internet could see explosive growth in the next few years," the report said.
The 3G high-speed networks can handle faster data downloads, allowing handset users to make video calls and watch TV programs.
Last week, China's telecommunications supervisor issued 3G mobile phone licenses to the country's three mobile operators, a move that was expected to lead to billions of dollars being invested in building new networks.
China Mobile, the biggest mobile operator, got a license for the domestically-developed TD-SCDMA standard.
It announced last Monday it would build 60,000 3G base stations in 2009 and cover 70 percent of the cities under the provincial level with the new network.