Half the World is Now Online, But What About the Other Half?

The United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development released its 106-page 2016 State of Broadband report today, pegging the number of global Internet users at 3.5 billion by the end of the year, up from 3.2 billion in 2015.

In terms of geography, China is the world’s top market with 721 million Internet users. India is now in second at 333 million, outpacing the U.S., which has an estimated 277 million users.

The report looks at Internet usage and penetration from myriad angles, with multiple sets of statistics to match. In terms of the percentage of households with Internet, Korea tops the list at 98.79 percent.

Another metric tracked in the report is the percentage of individuals using the Internet in countries around the world. Iceland tops the list with 98.20 percent of individuals in the country reportedly using the Internet. The U.S. ranks 40th in the world for this metric, with 74.55 percent of individuals using the Internet.

A large part of being connected to the Internet in 2016 is mobile, which is another area that is tracked in the report. Among the mobile metrics is one for the number of active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Finland tops the list at 144.05, while the U.S is 14th at 109.23. In contrast, looking at the the number of fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, Monaco is first at 47.47, while the U.S. ranks 22nd at 31.53.

Overall, the report noted that there are now 91 countries in the world with more than half of their respective populations connected to the Internet. While Internet penetration globally is growing, the report also notes that an estimated 3.9 billion people globally are not connected to the Internet.

The UN Commission is advocating for programs and policies in countries around the world that help to enable universal mobile broadband access for everyone in the world.

“There is a large body of economic evidence for the role of affordable broadband connectivity as a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection,” ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in a statement.

In terms of how to help connect the next 1.5 billion people to the Internet, there are a number of areas where focus needs to be placed. In a video (embedded below) Phillippa Biggs, lead author of the State of Broadband Report 2016, explains what she thinks need to happen.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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