2.7bn will have Internet access by year-end

ITU estimates that 2.7 billion people – or 39 per cent of the world’s population – will be using the Internet by end 2013.

Internet access, however, will remain limited in the developing world, with only 31 per cent of the population forecast to be online at the end of 2013, compared with 77 per cent in the developed world. Europe will remain the world’s most connected region with 75 per cent Internet penetration, largely outpacing Asia and the Pacific (32 per cent) and Africa (16 per cent).

Household Internet penetration – often considered the most important measure of Internet access – continues to rise. By end 2013, ITU estimates that 41 per cent of the world’s households will be connected to the Internet.

Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 27 per cent. But despite a positive general trend, 90 per cent of the 1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the developing world.

Speaking to government Ministers gathered at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré said: “We have made the most extraordinary progress in the first twelve years of the new millennium…and yet we still have far to go. Two thirds of the world’s population – some 4.5 billion people – is still offline. This means that two thirds of the world’s people are still locked out of the world’s biggest and most valuable library. Two thirds of the world’s people are still refused access to the world’s biggest market place. And two thirds of the world’s people are still denied the extraordinary opportunities now available to the other third. Mobile broadband is clearly going to be a vital part of the solution, and we must continue to ‘mobilise’ to ensure that all the world’s people have affordable, equitable access to the Internet.”

“Near-ubiquitous mobile penetration makes mobile cellular the ideal platform for service delivery in developing countries,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Our new m-Powering Development initiative is designed to leverage this potential across markets worldwide, and especially in rural and remote communities.”

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