Around 4.2 billion people or 57 per cent of the world's population do not have adequate access to the Internet, with the majority living in developing countries, a new report revealed.
The study was completed by ITU, a United Nations agency for information and communication technologies, and has been released ahead of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development meeting on September 26.
Although the amount of people overall connected to the Net has grown from last year – from 2.9 billion in 2014 to 3.2 billion this year – it hasn’t seemed to improve much for developing countries.
ITU found more than 90 per cent of people in the 48 UN-designated least developed countries – such as Somalia, Nepal and Vanuatu – can't access the Internet. Further, 65 per cent of people in developing countries are also without access.
Eritrea is one of the countries with the lowest levels of access to the Internet, with only 1 per cent of people connected. This is followed by Timor Leste at 1.1 per cent, Burundi at 1.4 per cent, Somalia at 1.6 per cent, and Guinea at 1.7 per cent.
“The market has done its work connecting the world’s wealthier nations, where a strong business case for network roll-out can easily be made. Our important challenge now is to find ways of getting online the four billion people who still lack the benefits of Internet connectivity, and this will be a primary focus of the Broadband Commission going forward,” said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.
Affordability and language are the top barriers for many people living in developing countries who want access to online resources to help educate and offer them opportunity to participate in the global economy, ITU found.
Internet services for people in developed countries on average costs them less than a third of what it costs for people in developing countries, showing a huge disadvantage for people in developing countries, ITU found.
“In many of the world’s poorest countries, where broadband could potentially have the greatest benefit in terms of bridging development gaps, even basic broadband service remains prohibitively expensive,” ITU stated in its research report.
ITU found only a 5 per cent of the world’s languages are online, with 55.2 per cent of content for the most popular 10 million websites being in English, followed by Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish and French.
“Among the 4.2 billion people who are not online, many people may be unaware of the Internet’s potential or cannot use it, because there is little or no useful content in their native language.”
Asia-Pacific dominates mobile
The report found that half of the world’s active mobile broadband subscriptions are coming from Asia-Pacific alone. This is up from 45 per cent in 2014.
China is leading in the region by becoming the world’s largest mobile operator by number of subscribers in January 2015. The country has 322 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people.Singapore came in second with 156 subscriptions per 100 people, followed by Kuwait with 140 subscriptions per 100 people.