3.2bn of global population online, says ITU

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The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on Monday said 3.2 billion people representing 43.3 percent of the global population are now Internet users.
In its `Annual Measuring the Information Society Report, ITU said that mobile-cellular subscriptions reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide, with more than 95 per cent of the global population now covered by a mobile-cellular signal.
It also noted that all 167 economies included in the ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) improved their IDI values between 2010 and 2015.
The report said that the improvement meant that the levels of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access, use and skills continued to improve all around the world.
It said that more people were online than ever before, but the growth was slow.
“By the end of this year, 46 per cent of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 44 per cent last year and just 30 per cent five years ago, in 2010.
“In the developed world, 81.3 per cent of households now have home Internet access, compared to 34.1 per cent in the developing world, and just 6.7 per cent in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
“The growth in Internet use has slowed down, however, posting 6.9 per cent global growth in 2015, after a 7.4 per cent growth in 2014.
“Nonetheless, the number of Internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past five years (2010-2015), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world,’’ the report noted.
It said that the fastest growth continued to be seen in mobile broadband, with the subscriptions worldwide having grown four-fold in five years, from 0.8 billion in 2010 to an 3.5 billion in 2015.
According to the report, the number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly to an estimated 0.8 billion today.
The report added that mobile-network coverage reached the last half billion, saying more than 95 per cent of the global population was now covered by mobile-cellular services.
It said with the 95 per cent, there were 350 million people worldwide who live in places which were out of reach of a mobile network, a figure that had dropped from 450 million a year ago.
The report said that while 89 per cent of the world’s urban population was now covered by a 3 Generation (3G) network, only 29 per cent of the world’s 3.4 billion people living in rural areas benefit from 3G coverage.
NAN reports that in 2014, the ITU membership adopted the `Connect 2020 Agenda,’ which sets out a series of goals and targets for improvements in the growth and inclusiveness of ICTs, their sustainability, and contribution of innovation and partnerships.
The report stated that the `Measuring the Information Society report’ for the first time, took stock of where the world stood presently, in terms of these goals and targets, and made estimates for their achievement by the year 2020.
According to the report, the proportion of households projected to have Internet access in 2020 would reach 56 per cent, exceeding the Connect 2020 target of 55 per cent worldwide.
“More needs to be done to increase the number of Internet users, as it is predicted that only 53 per cent of the global population will be online in 2020, significantly below the Connect 2020 target of 60 per cent.
“More action will also be needed to ensure that targets for growth and inclusiveness are not missed in developing countries, and in particular, in the LDCs.
“The Connect 2020 Agenda aims to ensure that at least 50 per cent of households in developing countries and 15 per cent of households in LDCs have access by 2020.
“But ITU estimates that only 45 per cent of households in developing countries and 11 per cent of LDC households will have Internet access by that date,’’ it said.
ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said that `Measuring the Information Society Report’ was widely recognised as the repository of the world’s most reliable and impartial global data and analysis on the state of global ICT development.
Zhao said that the report was extensively relied upon by governments, international organisations, development banks and private sector analysts worldwide.
“ICTs will be essential in meeting each and every one of the 17 newly-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“And this report plays an important role in the SDG process. Without measurement and reporting, we cannot track the progress being made, and this is why ITU gathers data and publishes this important report each year,’’ he said.
Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said that ITU’s work in gathering and publishing statistics allows us to monitor the real progress being made in ICT development worldwide.
The ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau produces the report each year.
“Progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be done, especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty,’’ Sanou added.

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