The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is a United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, published its latest statistics yesterday in The World in 2010: ICT facts and figures.
According to these statics, the number of global Internet users has doubled in the past five years and will surpass the two billion mark this year. These statistics also indicate that the number of users that have access to the Internet at home has increased from 1.4 billion in 2009 to almost 1.6 billion in 2010. The majority (162 million) of the 226 million new Internet users in 2010 will emanate from developing countries, where Internet users grow at a higher rate.
The organisation estimates that by the end of 2010, 71% of the population in developed countries will be online compared to 21% of the population in developing countries. In developed countries 65% of people have access to the Internet at home, while only 13.5% of people in developing countries possess this privilege. Regional differences are also significant as 65% of Europeans are on the Internet, while only 9.6% of Africans are for example.
ITC noted a strong increase in fixed broadband subscriptions over the past year and estimates that by the end of 2010, fixed broadband penetration will reach 8% globally, with penetration levels in developing countries remaining low (4.4 subscriptions per 100 people compared to 24.6 in developed countries).
“Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology,” stated ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré. “It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness. It is also the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal in our race to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the deadline for which is now just five years away.”
Mobile telephony makes for a rosier picture for developing countries. Access to mobile networks is now available to over 90% of the global population and ITU’s new data indicates that among the 5.3 billion estimated mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010, 3.8 billion will be in the developing world.
“Mobile phone penetration in developing countries now stands at 68% — higher than any other technology before,” said Sami Al Basheer, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “These countries have been innovative in adapting mobile technology to their particular needs and will be able to draw even greater benefits from broadband once adequate and affordable access is available.”