The total number of global internet users will surpass two billion by the end of the year, according to a new report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The figure was around 1.4 billion in 2009, and had grown to 1.6 billion by the beginning of 2010. The number will hit the two billion mark by the end of 2010, largely owing to growth in broadband networks.
The ITU estimates that 71 per cent of the population in developed countries, and 21 per cent in developing nations, will be able to access the internet by 2010. Global broadband connections currently have an eight per cent penetration rate.
"Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology," said ITU secretary general Hamadoun Touré.
"It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness."
The ITU also highlighted growth in mobile internet connectivity, noting that 90 per cent of the world's population is now covered by a mobile network.
As mobile broadband platforms become more widespread and affordable, the group sees huge potential for growth, particularly in developing countries.
"Mobile phone penetration in developing countries now stands at 68 per cent, higher than any other technology before," said ITU telecommunication development bureau director Sami Al Basheer.
"These countries have been innovative in adapting mobile technology to their particular needs and will be able to draw even greater benefits from broadband once adequate and affordable access is available."
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