Internet to reach 3bn users by end of 2014 – report

7 May 2014

A new report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) claims it expects to see the number of internet users worldwide reach 3bn by the end of 2014, two-thirds of which will be from the developing world.

The report released online indicates that the developed world is gradually nearing its peak user base of 78pc by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the continents of Asia and Africa are expected to lead the way in growing access to the internet.

However, the growth is not equal across all platforms. The ITU has found mobile is the dominant medium for accessing online information, as the standard fixed cable is finding little penetration in developing markets, particularly Africa.

According to the ITU’s figures, only 0.5pc of the world’s fixed-line broadband can be accounted for in Africa, while mobile-broadband penetration will reach 84pc, a level four times as high as in developing countries (21pc).

Asia has the highest fixed-line numbers by a considerable margin, with 44pc of the world’s cabled broadband.

The growth of broadband in the developing world is likely to increase significantly in the coming years, as both Facebook and Google launch their and Project Loon programmes, respectively, which will use thousands of drones and balloons to bring mobile internet to all areas of the planet.

The humble fixed phone line continues to lose importance worldwide. The ITU’s results show it has been declining for the past five years and by the end of 2014, there will be about 100m fewer fixed-telephone subscriptions than in 2009.

World internet image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic