Over half of world's population does not use internet: UN

November 22, 2016
The UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said that 3.9 billion people do not have home or mobile internet access

More than half the world's population does not use the internet, with prohibitive broadband costs keeping billions off line, a United Nations report said Tuesday.

The UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said that 3.9 billion people do not have home or mobile and that the problem was most acute among the world's "female, elderly, less educated, lower income and rural (populations)."

One problem is the cost of fixed-broadband access, which has fallen globally over the last decade but remained "clearly unaffordable" in many of the world's poorest countries, the ITU said.

In 2008, the global average price for a basic fixed-broadband connection was $80 (75 euros) per month, a figure which fell to $25 a month last year, according to the ITU.

But, in poorer countries a fixed-broadband monthly package with just one gigabyte of data—which is roughly the amount needed to download an average movie— still costs more than half of an average annual salary.

With fixed broadband so expensive, mobile internet access can offer a solution to get more people online the ITU said, noting that mobile-broadband networks technically cover 84 percent of the world's population.

But for many it is the cost of the handset, rather than the monthly subscription, which remained the biggest economic barrier to access, according to the ITU.

"In 2016 people no longer go online, they online," the report said. "Yet many people are still not using the internet, and many users do not fully benefit from its potential."

To increase digital access globally, the UN agency said it needed better data about who was being shut out of the information technology world.

"A data revolution is needed to better understand who uses the internet, where and how," the report explained.

Addressing the problems with the data set that has been predominate for years, ITU highlighted that mobile phone subscriptions, long cited as a connectivity indicator, no longer reliably reflected actual mobile phone use.

While there are nearly as many mobile subscriptions in the world as there are people, in some regions up to 40 percent of people do not own or use a , suggesting the huge number of people with multiple subscriptions had skewed the data.

Explore further: Superfast mobile 3G networks boom: UN telecoms agency

Related Stories

Third of world's population has Internet: UN

October 11, 2012

More than a third of the world's population is online while mobile phone uptake increased by more than 600 million in 2011 to around six billion, a UN agency said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Scientists write 'traps' for light with tiny ink droplets

October 23, 2017

A microscopic 'pen' that is able to write structures small enough to trap and harness light using a commercially available printing technique could be used for sensing, biotechnology, lasers, and studying the interaction ...

When words, structured data are placed on single canvas

October 22, 2017

If "ugh" is your favorite word to describe entering, amending and correcting data on the rows and columns on spreadsheets you are not alone. Coda, a new name in the document business, feels it's time for a change. This is ...

Enhancing solar power with diatoms

October 20, 2017

Diatoms, a kind of algae that reproduces prodigiously, have been called "the jewels of the sea" for their ability to manipulate light. Now, researchers hope to harness that property to boost solar technology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.