Third of world's population is online

Staff writer
25 Sep 2012

Over a third of the world’s population is now online, thanks to the exponential growth in developing countries, according to a new report released by the ITU.

According to the ITU’s Broadband Commission report, there were 252 million new internet users worldwide last year, of which 207 million came from developing countries.

Growth in the developing world is much faster than in developed world, with the former up 23.3% between 2010 and 2011, compared to 5.7% growth for the latter, the report noted.

Internet penetration in the developing world grew a staggering tenfold, from 2.1% in 2000 to 24.2% by the beginning of 2012. Growth in LDCs jumped from 3.6% in 2010 to 6% in just two years.

Yet, there is still a long way to go and greater effort is needed to extend internet access and achieve 2015 targets, the ITU said.

While over 20% of households in the developing world now have internet access - more than global average in 2006 – this is only half of the Broadband Commission's target for 2015.

And broadband is still too costly in developing countries. The report stated that in 19 of the world’s least developed economies – mostly in Africa – the cost of broadband surplus average monthly earnings. That contrasts with the Commission’s target for entry-level broadband services to cost 5% of average earnings by 2015.

According to the report, about 119 countries currently have a national broadband plan by mid-2012, with 12 plans in formulation.

The report also noted an interesting shift in the web's linguistic landscape, with English increasingly being challenged as the default language of the internet. The number of internet users accessing the web mainly in Chinese is expected to overtake internet users using predominantly English by 2015.

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