Broadband commission expects half of world connected by 2017

22 Sep 2014

The tenth Broadband Commission Meeting in New York.

The United Nations Broadband Commission has released its world report on the availability of broadband worldwide and believes that by 2017, half the world will have access to the internet.

The report entitled Broadband for All was launched at the UN’s headquarters in New York and subsequently online, and examines the world’s availability and access to the internet and broken down how each of these countries has been developing their infrastructure to cater to ever-growing demand.

According to their figures, approximately 2.9bn people, or 40pc of the world’s population, have access to the internet through at least one device and in three years’ time this will climb up to the half-way mark.

This has been largely put down to the mobile market which is expected to see 6.9bn mobile phone subscriptions by the end of this year, particularly in the Asia-Pacific market.

Ireland shows promise on world stage

Looking at Ireland in particular, we are seemingly placed quite high on the world stage in both the number of people with fixed-line subscriptions per 100 people as well as the number of active mobile subscriptions per 100 people.

In the first of these categories, Ireland is ranked 36th out of just under 200 countries with 24.2 fixed-line subscriptions per 100 people, while we are performing even better in mobile subscriptions ranked 22nd in the world in terms of mobile subscriptions at 67.2 per 100 people.

Ireland was also ranked 28th in the world for the number of individuals using the internet in 2013 coming in at 78.2pc.

The developed world is far surpassing the developed world in broadband penetration (Broadband for All)

‘Connectivity is not a luxury’

Speaking of the report, ITU secretary-general Dr Hamadoun I Touré said that while progress is being made, the developing world is still far behind more developed nations: “Broadband uptake is accelerating, but it is unacceptable that 90pc of people in the world’s 48 least developed countries remain totally unconnected. With broadband Internet now universally recognised as a vital tool for social and economic development, we need to make connectively a key development priority, particularly in the world’s poorest nations.

“Connectivity is not a luxury for the rich – rather, it is the most powerful tool mankind has ever had at its disposal to bridge development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic