Third Of World Now Online
October 11, 2012

One Third Of The World Is Now Online

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

International Telecommunications Union (ITU) reported on Thursday that over a third of the world's population is online.

The U.N. agency said not only is a vast portion of the world on the Internet, but mobile phone use has increased by more than 600 million in 2011 to around six billion.

"On the back of the increase in broadband services worldwide, the number of people using the Internet grew by 11 percent over the past year ... ie, 2.3 billion people," the ITU said in its 2012 report on information and communication technologies (ICT).

Internet connectivity prices in Africa were almost seven times higher than in America, and 20 times higher than in Europe in 2011.

Macau, Norway and Singapore were considered the country's that had the cheapest Internet connections to offer. Madagascar was at the bottom of that list, next to Togo and Niger.

Mobile phones with an Internet connection had the sharpest growth of all ICT sectors between 2010 and 2011, according to the agency. It said that almost 1.1 billion people had subscriptions by the end of 2011.

Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, said prices for communication technologies remain high in many low-income countries.

The report said income from the telecommunication sector reached $1.5 trillion in 2010, which is around 2.4 percent of the world's gross domestic product. Investment in telecommunications amounted to over $241 billion, or 2 percent of the world's total gross fixed capital formation.

"The figures highlight the important role developing countries are playing in terms of telecommunication revenues and investments, particularly during the recent economic crisis," ITU said in a statement regarding the report. "Between 2007 and 2010, both telecom revenues and investment continued to grow by 22% in developing countries, whereas revenues stagnated in developed countries."

While lower-income countries struggle to provide cheaper Internet access, cell phones have continued to take over. About 32 percent of Internet use is done on a mobile broadband connection in developing countries.

It said that nine of the top 20 telecom markets globally in terms of revenue were developing country markets, such as Brazil, China, India and Mexico.

ITU research and data suggests developing countries need a higher level of investment in advanced ICT services to fuel growth, mainly because ICT infrastructure levels are limited.

The ITU claims worldwide there are now twice as many mobile broadband subscribers as fixed-line broadband subscribers.

In the latest report, ITU ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores.