10, Dec, 2018
Half of the World is Now Online, Says UN Agency
This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society, ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao said in a statement. However, more needs to be done to connect the rest of the world to internet, he added.
More than half of the world's population is now online, according to revised estimates from a United Nation's agency.
The planet's internet population is set to reach 51.2 percent or 3.9 billion people by the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union said on Friday.
Originally, the ITU had forecasted the world passing the 50/50 milestone at the end of 2019. But new data based on surveys carried out across the globe indicates that internet adoption is growing a little faster than anticipated. "This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society," ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao said in a statement.
A decade ago, less than a quarter of the world's population had access to the internet, according to ITU's historical data. Since then, internet adoption has increased thanks to the rollout of faster cellular networks and the proliferation of smartphones.
ITU's latest estimates indicate that internet adoption is growing fastest in Africa. In 2005, only 2.5 percent of continent's people could go online. Now an estimated 24.4 percent of Africa's population has access to the internet.
Despite the progress, more needs to be done to help the rest of the world's population go online, according to Zhao. "Far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy," he said.
The ITU estimates that 90 percent of the world's population lives within reach of a mobile cellular network with 3G or faster speeds. So to bring more people online, countries need to focus on improving the affordability of internet access, the UN agency said.
"We must encourage more investment from the public and private sectors and create a good environment to attract investments, and support technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves no one offline," Zhao added.
The ITU defines an internet user as anyone who has been online in the last three months, so the agency is a little generous with how it counts the world's internet population. The new estimates didn't offer a country-by-country breakdown, but indicate that 70 percent of the population in North and South America were online.
According to the agency's latest estimates, almost half of all households in the world also have access to a computer, such as a desktop, laptop, or tablet.
Souce: PC Magazine