Thirty-nine per cent of the world’s population, or 2.7 billion people, will be using the internet by the end of 2013, according to estimates by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Internet access will remain relatively limited in the developing world, with only 31% of the population forecast to be online at the end of 2013, compared with 77% in the developed world. Europe will remain the world’s most connected region with 75% internet penetration, largely outpacing Asia and the Pacific (32%) and Africa (16%), according to the ITU’s The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures report.
Household internet penetration is expected to rise even higher, with the ITU estimating that 41% of the world’s households will be connected to the internet by the end of this year. Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 27%. However, 90% of the 1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the developing world, according to the ITU.
The cost of fixed-broadband services has fallen by 82% over the past five years if measured as a share of Gross National Income per capita. But in developing countries, residential fixed-broadband services remain expensive, accounting for just over 30% of average monthly GNI per capita, compared to just 1.7% of average national income in wealthy countries. Broadband is most affordable in Europe, where a basic subscription costs on average less than 2% of GNI per capita.
The report predicts that there will soon be as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people inhabiting the planet, with the figure set to edge past the seven billion mark early in 2014. According to the report, more than half of all mobile subscriptions are now in Asia, which remains the powerhouse of market growth, and by the end of 2013 overall mobile penetration rates will have reached 96% globally, 128% in the developed world, and 89% in developing countries.