Internet users to exceed 2 billion this year

People surf the web during a ''Campus Party'' Internet users gathering in Sao Paulo January 27, 2010. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

People surf the web during a ''Campus Party'' Internet users gathering in Sao Paulo January 27, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Paulo Whitaker

GENEVA | Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:21am EDT

GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of Internet users will surpass two billion this year, approaching a third of the world population, but developing countries need to step up access to the vital tool for economic growth, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday.

Users have doubled in the past five years, and compare with an estimated global population of 6.9 billion, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said.

Of 226 million new Internet users this year, 162 million will be from developing countries where growth rates are now higher, the ITU said in a report.

However, by the end of 2010, 71 percent of the population in developed countries will be online compared with 21 percent of people in developing countries.

The ITU said it was particularly important for developing countries to build up high-speed connections.

"Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology," said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure, of Mali. "It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity and underpin long-term economic competitiveness."

Access varies widely by region, with 65 percent of people online in Europe, ahead of 55 percent in the Americas, compared with only 9.6 percent of the population in Africa and 21.9 percent in Asia/Pacific, the ITU said.

Access to the Internet in schools, at work and in public places is critical for developing countries, where only 13.5 percent of people have the Internet at home, against 65 percent in developed countries, it said.

A study last week by another U.N. agency showed that mobile phones were a far more important communications technology for people in the poorest developing countries than the Internet.

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay/ David Stamp)

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Comments (3)
Jsuber wrote:

Those are mind boggling numbers. Yet it doesn’t seem the internet is all that robust. Perhaps because its hard to break from routine searches and find new adventure streams on a daily basis. I agree the Internet is a powerful engine for economic and education expansion. Self policing is still a work in progress, but I find it very democratic-to me that’s good. It certainly fuels ideas, but dialogue is still very much one way. I speak but who responds. I remember MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte telling a group of Turner Broadcasting Executives in the early 90’s if you haven’t heard about the Internet, when you do, it will change the way you do business forever. He introduce many of us that day to it…And our lives and business dealings did indeed change. I wonder who will introduce this phenom to the world that remain untethered and left out.

Oct 19, 2010 9:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TedUtz wrote:

So, with its incredible growth and momentum, Facebook will have the profiles of one quarter to one third of all Worldwide Internet users. Just a thought!

Oct 20, 2010 1:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
5tudentT wrote:

Amazing. Nearly 1/3 of humanity within keystrokes of one another.

Sobering–and they’ll all be profiled and targeted by Google, et-al.

More sobering–some organization, like FaceBook or Homeland Security or the Chinese government, will link all the fragments users leave all over the web into comprehensive files on them. Then the info will leak, one way or another, and everyone with something to sell will be spamming and everyone with a grudge will be hunting and retaliating.

It will be like the demise of the Krell, only slow and messy.

Oct 22, 2010 3:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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