The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has announced that by the end of the year, it predicts the number of Internet users worldwide to reach nearly three billion, which it credits to the growth of information and communications technologies (ICTs).
“Behind these numbers and statistics are real human stories. The stories of people whose lives have improved thanks to ICTs,” Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said. “Our mission is to bring ICTs into the hands of ordinary people, wherever they live. By measuring the information society, we can track progress, or identify gaps, towards achieving socio-economic development for all.”
By the end of the year, almost half of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet.
Much of this growth will come from developing countries. The most affluent regions have already connected most of their populations to the Internet. While three-quarters of people in the Americas have access to the Internet, only one-fifth of people across the continent of Africa do. Seventy-five percent of Europeans had Internet access, the highest penetration rate in the world. The Asia-Pacific region had the largest population of Internet users in total.
The ITU expects much of the future growth to come from mobile broadband. The number of mobile subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion worldwide, with 55 percent coming from developing countries where people have not had access to traditional PCs but are rapidly adopting mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The number of mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach seven billion this year, again driving by adoption in the developing world.
By contrast, fixed broadband is expected to slow in the developing world, reaching a ten percent penetration rate. The Asia-Pacific region was the world leader in wired broadband subscriptions. As the world shifts to mobile and broadband connections, subscriptions to fixed-telephone services will continue to decline. The ITU projects 100 million fewer subscriptions this year than in 2009.
Edited by Alisen Downey