Global broadband growth slows sharply: 4 billion still offline
UN Broadband Commission releases new country-by-country data on
state of broadband access worldwide
Geneva, 21 September, 2015 – Broadband Internet is failing
to reach those who could benefit most, with Internet access reaching
near-saturation in the world’s rich nations but not advancing fast enough to
benefit the billions of people living in the developing world, according to the
2015 edition of the
State of Broadband report.
Released today just ahead of the forthcoming
Summit in New York and the parallel meeting of the
Broadband Commission for
Sustainable Development on September 26, the report reveals that
57% of the world’s people remain offline and unable to take advantage of the
enormous economic and social benefits the Internet can offer.
Access to information and communication technologies, particularly broadband
Internet, has the potential to serve as a major accelerator of development, with
the importance of ICT connectivity specifically recognized in the new UN
Sustainable Development Goals. With the 17 goals now firmly on the global
agenda, governments and private industry both have a strong interest in finding
ways to get people online, the report argues.
The Broadband Commission comprises
more than 50 leaders from across a range of government and
industry sectors who are committed to actively assisting countries, UN experts
and NGO teams to fully leverage the huge potential of ICTs to drive new national
SDG strategies in key areas like education, healthcare and environmental
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals remind us that we need to measure
global development by the number of those being left behind,” said ITU
Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission
with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “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.”
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
advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011.
New figures in the report confirm that 3.2 billion people are now connected,
up from 2.9 billion last year and equating to 43% of the global population. But
while access to the Internet is approaching saturation levels in the developed
world, the Net is only accessible to 35% of people in developing countries. The
situation in the
48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries is particularly
critical, with over 90% of people without any kind of Internet connectivity.
This year’s figures show that the top ten countries for household Internet
penetration are all located in Asia or the Middle East. The Republic of Korea
continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration, with
98.5% of homes connected; Qatar (98%) and Saudi Arabia (94%) are ranked second
and third respectively.
Iceland has the highest percentage of individuals using the Internet (98.2%),
just ahead of near-neighbours Norway (96.3%) and Denmark (96%).
Monaco remains very slightly ahead of Switzerland as the world leader in
fixed broadband penetration, at over 46.8% of the population compared with the
Swiss figure of 46%. There are now six economies (Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark,
Netherlands, Liechtenstein and France) where fixed broadband penetration exceeds
40%, up from just one (Switzerland) in 2013.
The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for half of all active mobile broadband
subscriptions, with Macao, China easily taking top place with 322 active mobile
broadband subscriptions per 100 people – or just over 3 subscriptions per
inhabitant – followed by second-ranked Singapore (156 subscriptions per 100
people) and Kuwait (140 subscriptions per 100 people).
In total, there are now 79 countries where over 50% of the population is
online, up from 77 in 2014. The top ten countries for Internet use are all
located in Europe. The lowest levels of Internet access are mostly found in
sub-Saharan Africa, with Internet available to less than 2% of the population in
Guinea (1.7%), Somalia (1.6%), Burundi (1.4%), Timor Leste (1.1%) and Eritrea
“The 2030 Agenda recognizes the power of new technologies to accelerate human
progress, to bridge the digital divide, to develop knowledge societies – we must
do everything to support States in reaching these goals, especially developing
States,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. “This calls for stronger
efforts by governments and all actors, in ensuring access, use and affordability
– it requires also greater work to build the capacities of all women and men to
make the most of all new opportunities.”
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 148 today, according to the report.
The State of Broadband 2015 is the fourth edition of the Commission’s
broadband connectivity report. Released annually, it is the only report that
features country-by-country rankings based on access and affordability for over
160 economies worldwide.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded
Download the key Report Highlights
Video: State of Broadband lead author Phillippa Biggs speaks about key issues
in this year’s report:
What’s the one strong headline coming out of this year’s report?
There are now over 3 billion people online. Is the ‘digital
Do national Broadband Plans actually work?
Which technologies, or combination of technologies, will prove
the most promising for connecting the next billion and the next 4 billion?
What is the current status in terms of linguistic diversity
Can broadband on its own drive sustainable development?
View the whole interview here.
Download broadcast-quality audio podcasts of these interview questions
A cover photo of the report can be downloaded
Photos of the report launch in Geneva can be downloaded from the ITU’s Flickr
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