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China's online population rockets to 538 million

The number of Chinese online was already huge, and it's soared over the past year by more than 50 million thanks to an upsurge in mobile Internet access.


China has seen a massive growth in online users, an 11 percent increase on a year ago, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The government-sanctioned group's report published online showed the number of Internet-connected users in China rose to 538 million by the end of June, up from 485 million in 2011.

Mobile Internet use rose to 388 million users -- up by 22 percent from a year ago. The number of fixed-line broadband users, meanwhile, fell by 70 million over the past 18 months.

China now has more mobile broadband subscribers than those with fixed-line broadband connections, with more than half of new mobile subscribers come from rural areas with little or no landline broadband connection, as mobile broadband is often cheaper than landline connections in developing regions.

Mobile phone prices continue to fall, with many smartphones costing less than 1,000 yuan, or $160.

The country now has more than 8.7 million domain names, with just shy of 4 million associated with the ".cn" top-level domain. In the IPv6 race, China is ranked third in the world.

The Chinese government continues to fund and encourage Internet access in the country, which now has more than 1.35 billion people, but online access is far from open.

China limits Internet freedom by blocking access to sites and social networks that criticize the Communist Party-run government, along with other material deemed obscene or subversive -- an effort otherwise known as the "Great Firewall."

China recently brought in stricter controls over social networks, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which played a role in protests that toppled governments in the Middle East last year.