Exactly How Big Is the Internet?

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How big is the internet?. mattjeacock/Digital Vision Vectors/Getty Images

Although it is impossible to be precisely sure, there are several benchmark indicators for estimating the approximate size of the Internet and World Wide Web.  Number of users is the most helpful measure.

For the purposes of convenience, the Internet and the World Wide Web will be considered synonymous for the trend analyses below.

Resources: There are several companies who attempt to measure the Internet's usage: the Internet Society, ClickZ, Vsauce, Internet Live Stats, Gizmodo, Cyberatlas.internet.com, Statmarket.com/Omniture, marketshare.hitslink.com, Nielsen Ratings, Office of the CIA, Mediametrix.com, comScore.com, eMarketer.com, Serverwatch.com, Securityspace.com, internetworldstats.com, and the Computer Industry Almanac. These groups use custom techniques of polling, electronic tallying of server traffic, web server logging, focus group sampling, and other measurement means.

Here is a compilation of statistical projections from Internet Live Stats:

I) Total Internet Human Usage, November 2015

1. 3.1 billion: the total estimated number of unique individuals who are actively using the Internet.
2. 279.1 million: the estimated number of USA residents on Internet.
3. 646.6 million: the estimated number of China residents on the Internet.
4. 86.4 million: the estimated number of Russian residents on the Internet.
5. 108.1 million: the estimated number of Brazil residents on Internet.

II) Historical Comparison: Internet Usage in One Month, by Country, Oct 2005:

1. Australia: 9.8 million
2. Brazil: 14.4 million
3. Switzerland 3.9 million
4. Germany 29.8 million
5. Spain 10.1 million
6. France 19.6 million
7. Hong Kong 3.2 million
8. Italy 18.8 million
9. Netherlands 8.3 million
10. Sweden 5.0 million
11. United Kingdom 22.7 million
12. United States 180.5 million
13. Japan 32.3 million

III) Additional Statistical References:

1. ClickZ compilation of statistical online populations, current.
2. Cyberatlas/ClickZ compilation of statistical country surveys, 2004-2005.
3. Google's Cultural Zeitgeist Profile.
4. WebSiteOptimization Study of Americans Using Broadband.

5. Russel Seitz, Michael Stevens. and Vsauce calculations at NPR


IV) Conclusion:

Regardless of the accuracy of these statistics, it is safe to conclude that the Internet is a daily tool for millions of people worldwide. When it first started in 1989, the World Wide Web had 50 people sharing web pages. Today, at least 3 billion people use the Web every week as a part of their lives. More countries outside of North America are going online, and there is no stoppage of growth in the foreseeable future.

You might as well get used to the Internet and the World Wide Web as a part of daily life, folks. Over 3 billion other people already do.