UN Broadband Commission: 50% of world online by 2017

A report by the UN Broadband Commission shows that 40% of the world’s population are already online, with the figure set to reach 50% by 2017. Data from the annually published report, titled The State of Broadband, predicts that the number of internet users is set to rise from last year’s 2.3 billion to 2.9 billion by the end of 2014.

The report, which provides data globally country-by-country, also forecasts that over 2.3 billion people will access mobile broadband by the end of this year, set for a significant rise to 7.6 billion in the next five years.

The total number of countries in which over 50% of population are online has climbed to 77 from last year’s 70. But UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said more still needs to be done to get developing countries better connected. “Providing Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere, will take determined policy leadership and investment,”she said.

“As we focus on infrastructure and access, we must also promote the rights skills and diversity of content, to allow women and men to participate in building and participating in knowledge societies. As the new State of Broadband report shows, ICTs are making a significant contribution to social development, economic development and environmental protection, the three pillars that will underpin the post-2015 international development agenda and move us towards a more sustainable world.“

According to the report, the top 10 countries for internet use are all European with Iceland ranking the first at 96.5% of population, although Korea is world’s highest for household broadband penetration with 98% (up from 97% last year). The US ranks 19th ahead of such as Germany 2oth and Australia 21st, but behind the UK (12th), Japan (15th) and Canada (16th). The lowest proportion  people connected to the internet in the world are predominantly in sub-Saharan African countries.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

“As we look towards the post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is imperative that we not forget those who are being left behind,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “Broadband uptake is accelerating, but it is unacceptable that 90% of people in the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected.

“With broadband Internet now universally recognized as a vital tool for social and economic development, we need to make connectively a key development priority, particularly in the world’s poorest nations. Connectivity is not a luxury for the rich – rather, it is the most powerful tool mankind has ever had at its disposal to bridge development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment.”

The UN Sustainable Development Goals were put in place the beginning of the millennium, and the framework was planned up until 2015, after which time a new set of goals for sustainable development in key areas such as education, entrepreneurship and technology will be established.

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