Over half the world’s population remains cut off from internet access, despite the rapid growth of access in nations across the globe.
New data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) shows that, since it started measuring the growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in 2000, a total of 3.2 billion people are now online, the majority in developing nations. This leaves four billion people still not online, the ITU said.
This figure equates to 43 percent of the global population which, while a seven-fold increase from the penetration of 6.5 percent in 2000, is still under half the total population of the planet.
Furthermore, the proportion of global households with internet access is under half at 46 percent, up from 18 percent in 2005.
The majority of those not online are, unsurprisingly, in developing countries, and those in least developing countries (LDCs) are the most likely not to be online. Some 851 million of the one billion people in nations classed as LDCs are not online.
However, the rise in mobile broadband access looks set to reach a tipping point in 2015. The ITU predicted that 3G coverage will reach 69 percent of the planet during 2015, up from 45 percent in 2011.
It seems clear that mobile broadband access is key to the future of worldwide internet access growth, as data from the ITU shows that access to fixed broadband services is slowing across the world, especially in developing nations, despite prices falling.
ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao said he was encouraged by the figures, but that there is plenty to do to get more people online.
“These new figures not only show the rapid technological progress made to date, but help us identify those being left behind in the fast-evolving digital economy, as well as the areas where ICT investment is needed most,” he said.
The figures follow data from the UK's Office for National Statistics released last week showing that six million UK adults have still never used the internet, despite the benefits it offers.
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