In the early parts of the 20th century, scientists had already anticipated the existence of worldwide networks on information. But it was only until the first day of the year 1983 when the “network of networks” was officially assembled, leading to the birth of the modern Internet.
The online world then took on a more recognizable form a decade later, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. It helped popularize the Internet among the public, across the globe. And along with the invention of smart gadgets designed to connect to cyberspace, the Internet became an essential part of human life.
Most of us probably do not remember the first time we accessed the Internet, but here’s what we’re sure of: we do not see ourselves going completely “offline” anytime soon. And with the pandemic stopping us from traveling or even meeting friends, we all turned to the online world for belongingness, for connection.
Bao, a social media intern in a Saigon-based travel agency, has been using the Internet for as long as he can remember. But he didn’t even think professional roles involving “social media” existed.
“Everyone’s connected to the Internet, searching information on Google or posting a status update on Facebook. But I never thought I could actually make use of my being an Internet savvy,” Bao shares. His job involves posting travel tips and inspiring photos on social media.
“Once I started working, I realized the importance of the Internet to connect with people from different parts of the world. Even when you don’t really get to see the people you’re talking with, you seem to be connected in a weird way.”
Bao adds, “It’s challenging because I have to post content in both English and Vietnamese languages to cater to different readers.”
In a recent survey released by Visual Capitalist, online content on the world wide web is consumed in thousands of different languages.
Ranking first is English — the universal language. At least 60% of top 10M websites use English to convey a message to their audience or consumers. At a distant gap, Russia ranks second with 8.5%.
Part of the top 10 most used languages is Vietnamese, at number 9, with 1.7%. Driven by top Vietnamese-language websites like Lazada, Shopee, Tiki, Laodong and Zalo, the native language of Vietnam — with its six tones and a plethora of strange vowel sounds — is even more common on the web than Simplified Chinese.
It’s also worth noting that the use of Vietnamese language on the Internet is actually bigger than the percentage of the global population that speaks the language.
“English is by far the most commonly used language online, used by 60.4% of websites surveyed. Not surprisingly, it’s also the most spoken language worldwide, with over 1.13 billion speakers,” reads the report. The data is based on the top 10 million websites by traffic rankings from Alexa.com.
By contrast, Chinese is spoken by 14.3% of the global population — more than 1.11 billion people — but it’s only used by 1.4% of the top 10 million websites.
Although it’s likely that English and Russian will continue to dominate the web, Asian languages have the highest potential for growth in internet usage.
Vietnam’s growing digital space
A report from statista.com reveals that there were 4.66 billion active Internet users globally as of January 2021. That’s about 60% of the total population. Connecting billions of people worldwide, the internet is a core pillar of the modern information society.
In Vietnam, nearly 69 million people have access to the web, thanks to its affordable and stable coverage. Not to mention the millions of free WiFi hotspots available in almost all cafes, restaurants, hotels, buildings and malls.
The country ranked ninth in terms of cheapest Internet. The average monthly cost of broadband connection is just $12.4, a lot cheaper that Thailand ($26), Indonesia (32.5), Malaysia (35) and the Philippines ($51).
Vietnam is also one of the world’s least expensive countries to buy mobile data. One GB of mobile data only costs $1.1 on average.
A global ranking of Internet accessibility also named Vietnam as the 56th most connected country. With a score of 81.57 out of 100, the country is well above South Korea (66th), Malaysia (76th), the Philippines (83rd) and China (114th).
The index, from BroadbandChoices, looked at the quality, availability and cost of Internet access in 169 countries to find the most connected countries, as well as those that face the biggest barriers to getting online.
Denmark is the most connected country, scoring 99.8, while Burundi in East Africa comes last with a score of less than 1.
Reliable and affordable internet access is vital in order to be competitive in an increasingly digital global economy, and with the coronavirus pandemic only speeding up the move towards digital industries, developing countries are at risk of being left behind, says Rob Baillie from BroadbandChoices UK.