The broadband divide is widening: UN

telecomasia.net

The world is coming closer to having half of the population online, but there remains a wide and growing gap between developed and emerging markets, according to the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.

The commission's latest State of Broadband report shows that 48% of the global population is now online, but this leaves around 3.9 billion people without access to the internet.

In addition, internet penetration in the developing world is projected to reach only 41.3% by the end of the year, and in the UN's list of the least developed countries, internet user penetration is projected to reach just 17.5%.

There is also a gender divide, with men still outnumbering women in terms of internet usage worldwide, although this trend is reversed in the Americas. But studies indicate that the gender divide is becoming wider in developing countries, especially in Africa.

On the mobile front, currently only 76% of the world's population lives within access of a 3G signal, and only 43% are within access of a 4G connection. Mobile users without the opportunity to migrate from 2G are considered under-connected.

The report also notes that fixed and mobile broadband services are becoming progressively more affordable in a large number of countries, but it still remains challenging to make internet access affordable for developing countries, in part due to the high costs of satellite access and fibre-optic cables. Customers in landlocked countries are most affected by high costs for internet access.

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