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Net adoption growing overseas

America's share of the world's Internet users is dropping fast, according to an annual reference book about the online industry.

The United States has many more people using the Internet than do other countries, with more than 54 percent of the total, but the American share is dropping as other nations adopt Net technology, according to the Internet Industry Almanac, an annual reference book about the online industry.

The U.S. share was more than 80 percent in 1991, dropping to just under 65 percent in 1994. Top 15 countries in Internet usage It is expected to fall below 40 percent by the end of the year 2000, the almanac says.

With so many people coming online outside the United States, it is no wonder U.S. companies are racing to grab as much market share as possible abroad. Earlier this month, America Online announced it is expanding its online network in Germany and will be using television ads there to boost membership. That came on the heels of the company's announcement in December that it had reached the 1 million mark overseas.

Search site Excite confirmed today that it will be providing Web-based email and curricula to millions of school-aged children in the United Kingdom. In addition, WorldCom is looking at Japan as the next big market for high-speed Net access via cable.

The list of the top 15 countries is populated mainly by large, industrialized nations. Also appearing are smaller, developed nations that were early adopters of the Internet, such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. The almanac's publishers say the smaller nations will be replaced by more populous countries such as China and Russia, which have been slower to come online.

The figures in the chart include business, educational, and home Internet users and are based on year-end 1997 estimates.