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Half the world will be online by 2017

UN Broadband Commission releases new country-by-country data on state of broadband access worldwide

New York, 21 September, 2014– Over 50% of the global population will have Internet access within three years’ time, with mobile broadband over smartphones and tablets now the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the 2014 edition of the State of Broadband report.

Released today in New York at the 10th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development the report reveals that more than 40% of the world’s people are already online, with the number of Internet users rising from 2.3 billion in 2013 to 2.9 billion by the end of this year.

Over 2.3 billion people will access mobile broadband by end 2014, climbing steeply to a predicted 7.6 billion within the next five years. There are now over three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions. The popularity of broadband-enabled social media applications continues to soar, with 1.9 billion people now active on social networks.

Produced annually by the Broadband Commission, The State of Broadband is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the 54 members of the Broadband Commission.

The Republic of Korea continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration at over 98%, up from 97% last year. Monaco now surpasses last year’s champion, Switzerland, as the world leader in fixed broadband penetration, at over 44% of the population. There are now four economies (Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands) where penetration exceeds 40%, up from just one (Switzerland) in 2013.

The US ranks 19th globally in terms of number of people online, ahead of other OECD countries like Germany (20th) and Australia (21st), but behind the United Kingdom (12th), Japan (15th) and Canada (16th). The US has slid from 20th to 24th place for fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, just behind Japan but ahead of Macao (China) and Estonia.

In total, there are now 77 countries where over 50% of the population is online, up from 70 in 2013. The top ten countries for Internet use are all located in Europe, with Iceland ranked first in the world with 96.5% of people online. The lowest levels of Internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with Internet available to less than 2% of the population in Ethiopia (1.9%), Niger (1.7%), Sierra Leone (1.7%), Guinea (1.6%), Somalia (1.5%), Burundi (1.3%), Eritrea (0.9%) and South Sudan (no data available). The list of the ten least-connected nations also includes Myanmar (1.2%) and Timor Leste (1.1%).

“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 I. 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 connectivity 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.”

“Despite the phenomenal growth of the Internet, despite its many benefits, there are still too many people who remain unconnected in the world’s developing countries,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.  “Providing Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere, will take determined policy leadership and investment. 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.“

A separate report of the Commission’s Working Group on Financing and Investment, led by the Inter-American Development Bank, was also released at today’s meeting, alongside a report from the Commission’s Task Force on Sustainable Development, led by Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg.

Other highlights of today’s meeting included a special session on new business models for the Internet age featuring Yael McGuire (Director of Engineering, Facebook), discussions on new regulatory models led by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and African Development Bank Vice President Alex Rugamba, and contributions from other special guests including Eric Loeb, Vice President, International External Affairs, AT&T and World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

The Commission’s advocacy around the importance of broadband has seen the number of countries with a National Broadband Plan in place grow from 102 in 2010, when the Commission began its work, to 140 today, according to the new report.

The State of Broadband 2014 is the third edition of the Commission’s annual report. Released annually in September in New York, it is the only report that features country-by-country rankings based on access and affordability for over 160 economies worldwide.

A cover photo of the report can be downloaded here

Photos of the full meeting of the Commission can be downloaded from the ITU’s Flickr channel at:  http://bit.ly/1s84FRc

Video can be viewed on ITU's YouTube Channel at:  http://bit.ly/1mhwwfl

A video highlighting the work of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development since its launch in 2010 can be viewed at:http://youtu.be/hMmS5rQUX7E

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at: http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/reports/bb-annualreport2014.pdf

For more information on the Broadband Commission, visit: www.broadbandcommission.org

Follow the Broadband Commission on Facebook: www.facebook.com/broadbandcommission

Follow the Broadband Commission on Twitter: www.itu.int/twitter

For more information, please contact:

In New York:

Paul Conneally

Head, Communications & Partnership Promotion

E-mail: paul.conneally@itu.int

Tel: +41 22 730 5601

Mobile: +41 79 592 5668

Gary Fowlie

Head, ITU Liaison Office

E-mail: gary.fowlie@itu.int

Tel : +1 917 367 2992
Mobile: +1 917 679 5254

In Geneva:

Sarah Parkes

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

Tel : +41 22 730 6135
Mobile: +41 79 599 1439
E-mail: sarah.parkes@itu.int

In Paris:

Sue Williams

Chief, Media Relations, UNESCO<

Email: s.williams@unesco.org

Tel: +33 1 4568 1706

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For nearly 150 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. www.itu.int

About UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization works to harness the power of knowledge and information, particularly through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), to transform economies, create inclusive knowledge societies, and empower local communities by increasing access to and preservation and sharing of information and knowledge in all of UNESCO’s domains. For UNESCO, such knowledge societies must be built on four pillars: freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all.  See more at: www.unesco.org

 

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