The global push to connect the world to the internet is showing signs of starting to stall, with boradband still failing to reach the people it could benefit the most, according to the ITU.
Broadband growth has slowed sharply over the last year, and 57% of the world's population remains offline, the Broadband Commission's latest State of Broadband report shows.
There are 3.2 billion people now connected to the internet, up by just 300 million from last year. While broadband is reaching saturation in the developed world, the internet is only available to 35% of the population in developing markets.
In the 48 nations declared by the UN to be the least developed countries, more than 90% of people lack any kind of internet connectivity.
“The 2030 Agenda recognizes the power of new technologies to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide, to develop knowledge societies – we must do everything to support States in reaching these goals, especially developing states,” UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said.
“This calls for stronger efforts by governments and all actors, in ensuring access, use and affordability – it requires also greater work to build the capacities of all women and men to make the most of all new opportunities.”
Recognizing this need, 148 countries globally have put in place a national broadband plan, up from 102 in 2010.
The report shows that South Korea remains the world's highest-connected nation, with a household broadband penetration of 98.5%. The rest of the top 10 countries are all located in Asia or the Middle East.
APAC now accounts for half of all active mobile broadband connections worldwide. Macao is the top ranking market for mobile broadband with 322 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people, followed by Singapore (156 subscriptions per 100 people).