More than 3bn people on Earth are now online and by the end of 2014 there will be some 7bn mobile connections on the planet, according to the ITU’s latest Measuring the Information Society report.
The report is regarded as one of the most reliable and impartial reports on global data and analysis of the state of global ICT development.
Latest data show that internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6pc globally in 2014 – 3.3pc in developed countries, 8.7pc in the developing world.
The number of internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years (2009-2014), with two-thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.
Of the 4.3bn people not yet using the internet, 90pc live in developing countries. In the world’s 42 least connected countries (LCCs), which are home to 2.5bn people, access to ICTs remains largely out of reach, particularly for these countries’ large rural populations.
In the mobile cellular segment, the report estimates that by end 2014 there will be 7bn mobile subscriptions, roughly corresponding to the total global population.
But it warns against concluding that everyone is connected; instead, many users have multiple subscriptions, with global growth figures sometimes translating into little real improvement in the level of connectivity of those at the very bottom of the pyramid.
An estimated 450m people worldwide live in places which are still out of reach of mobile cellular service.
“ICTs have the potential to make the world a much better place – in particular for those who are the poorest and the most disenfranchised, including women, youth, and those with disabilities,” said ITU secretary-general Dr Hamadoun I Touré.
“This important report is a critical part of the global ICT development process. Without measurement we cannot track progress, which is why ITU gathers ICT statistics for 200 economies across over 100 indicators.”
The world’s most connected countries
Denmark ranked No 1 in the ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI), a composite measurement that ranks 166 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills. It is followed by the Republic of Korea.
The IDI top 30 include countries from Europe and high-income nations from other regions, including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Almost all countries surveyed improved their IDI ranking this year.
Ireland came in at 26th in the world ranking for 2013, keeping within the top 30, but down significantly from its 2012 ranking of 22nd place.
By the end of this year, almost 44pc of households globally will have internet access at home, up from 40pc last year and 30pc in 2010. In the developed world, 78pc of households now have home internet access, compared to 31pc in developing countries, and just 5pc in the 48 UN least developed countries.
Internet access in schools has made important strides forward over the past decade. In developed countries, the vast majority of schools now have broadband internet, with many industrialised nations having already reached 100pc school connectivity. In developing countries, substantial progress has also been made, but access levels vary widely, not just from country to country, but also across different regions within nations.
Connected world image via Shutterstock