The number of people online all over the world has grown to 3.2 billion, up from 2.9 billion last year and equating to around 43 percent of the global population, according to new figures from the 2015 edition of the State of Broadband report published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). However, while access to the internet is approaching saturation levels in the developed world, the report reveals that some 4 billion people, or 57 percent of the world’s population, remain offline. Released to coincide with the forthcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York and the parallel meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development on 26 September, the fourth edition of the State of Broadband report confirms the ITU’s forecast from earlier this year, adding that the internet is only accessible to 35 percent of people in developing countries. The situation in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries is particularly critical, said the ITU, with over 90 percent of people without any kind of internet connectivity.
This year’s figures show that the top ten countries for household internet penetration are all located in Asia or the Middle East. The Republic of Korea continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration, with 98.5 percent of homes connected, followed by Qatar (98 percent) and Saudi Arabia (94 percent). Iceland has the highest percentage of individuals using the internet (98.2 percent), just ahead of Norway (96.3 percent) and Denmark (96 percent).
Monaco remains slightly ahead of Switzerland as the world leader in fixed broadband penetration, at over 46.8 percent of the population compared with the Swiss figure of 46 percent. There are now six economies (Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Liechtenstein and France) where fixed broadband penetration exceeds 40 percent, up from just one (Switzerland) in 2013.
The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for half of all active mobile broadband subscriptions, with Macao, China easily taking top place with 322 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people – or just over 3 subscriptions per inhabitant – followed by second-ranked Singapore (156 subscriptions per 100 people) and Kuwait (140 subscriptions per 100 people).
The ITU added that there are now 79 countries where over 50 percent of the population is online, up from 77 in 2014. The top ten countries for internet use are all located in Europe, while the lowest levels of internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with internet available to less than 2 percent of the population in Guinea (1.7 percent), Somalia (1.6 percent), Burundi (1.4 percent), Timor Leste (1.1 percent) and Eritrea (1.0), said the ITU.