The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today issued a report showing an additional 250 million people came online in 2012 and estimated by end 2013 that 40% of the world will be online, but 1.1 billion households, or 4.4 billion people will remain unconnected.
The findings came in the ITU’s flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2013.
By end 2013 there will be 6.8 billion total mobile-cellular subscriptions – almost as many as there are people on the planet.
An estimated 2.7 billion people will also be connected to the Internet – though speeds and prices vary widely, both across and within regions.
30% of the world’s young population are ‘digital natives’
Mobile broadband connections over 3G and 3G+ networks are growing at an average annual rate of 40 per cent, equating to 2.1 billion mobile-broadband subscriptions and a global penetration rate of almost 30 per cent. Almost 50 per cent of all people worldwide are now covered by a 3G network.
The Republic of Korea leads the world in terms of overall ICT development for the third consecutive year, followed closely by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Hong Kong (China) also rank in the top 10, with the UK nudging into the top 10 group from 11th position last year.
ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI)* ranks 157 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2011 and 2012 scores.
The report identifies a group of ‘most dynamic countries’, which have recorded above-average improvements in their IDI rank or value over the past 12 months. These include (in order of most improved): United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Barbados, Seychelles, Belarus, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Zambia, Australia, Bangladesh, Oman and Zimbabwe.
The report also identifies the countries with the lowest IDI levels – so-called Least Connected Countries (LCCs). Home to 2.4 billion people – one third of the world’s total population – the Least Connected Countries are also the countries that could potentially derive great benefits from better access to and use of ICTs in areas such as health, education and employment.
Analysis of trends in broadband pricing in more than 160 countries shows that in the four years between 2008-2012 fixed-broadband prices fell by 82 per cent overall, from 115.1 per cent of average monthly income per capita (GNI p.c.) in 2008 to 22.1 per cent in 2012.
The biggest drop occurred in developing countries, where fixed-broadband prices fell by 30 per cent year on year between 2008 and 2011.
The average price per unit of speed (Mbps) also decreased significantly between 2008 and 2012, with a global median price of USD 19.50 per Mbps in 2012, almost a quarter of the price that was being charged in 2008.
Austria has the world’s most affordable mobile broadband, while Sao Tomé and Principe, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the least affordable, with service cost equal to or higher than average monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita. Other countries that rank well for mobile broadband affordability include Qatar, the United Kingdom, Germany, Kuwait and France.
A new model developed by ITU for this year’s report estimates the size of the digital native population worldwide, showing that in 2012 there were around 363 million digital natives out of a world population of around 7 billion. This equates to 5.2 per cent of the total global population, and 30 per cent of the global youth population. The model defines digital natives as networked youth aged 15-24 years with five or more years of online experience.
Out of a total of 145 million young Internet users in the developed countries, 86.3 per cent are estimated to be digital natives, compared with less than half of the 503 million young Internet users in the developing world. Within the next five years, the digital native population in the developing countries is forecast to more than double.
The report shows that, globally speaking, young people are almost twice as networked as the global population as a whole, with the age gap more pronounced in the developing world.
At the beginning of 2013 almost 80 per cent of households globally had a TV, compared with 41 per cent of households with a computer and 37 per cent with Internet access.
The trend is strongly positive, however, with the proportion of households with Internet access in developing countries increasing from 12 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent in 2013 – a remarkable 18 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
Internet users as a percentage of the population has been growing on average at double-digit rates over the past ten years.
The percentage of the population online in the developed world will reach almost 77 per cent by end 2013, compared with 31 per cent in the developing world.
You can read the full report here