December 2, 2015
ITU’s annual Measuring the Information Society Report, released this week, reveals that 3.2 billion people are now online, representing 43.4% of the global population, while mobile-cellular subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide, with over 95% of the global population now covered by a mobile-cellular signal.
The report also notes that all 167 economies included in the ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) improved their IDI values between 2010 and 2015 — meaning that levels of information and communication technology (ICT) access, use and skills continue to improve all around the world.
“ICT will be essential in meeting each and every one of the 17 newly-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, “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.”
Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s telecommunication development bureau, which produces the report each year, said progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICT can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty.”
Highlights of the report include the following:
* By the end of this year, 46% of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 44% last year and just 30% five years ago, in 2010. In the developed world, 81.3% of households now have home Internet access, compared to 34.1% in the developing world, and just 6.7% in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
* Fastest growth continues to be seen in mobile broadband, with the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide having grown more than four-fold in five years, from 0.8 billion in 2010 to an estimated 3.5 billion in 2015. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly, to an estimated 0.8 billion today.
* Over 95% of the global population is now covered by mobile-cellular services, meaning that there are still an estimated 350 million people worldwide who live in places which are still out of reach of a mobile network — a figure that has dropped from 450 million a year ago. But while 89% of the world’s urban population is now covered by a 3G network, only 29% of the world’s 3.4 billion people living in rural areas benefit from 3G coverage.