World to have 3B online users, majority in APAC

World to have 3B online users, majority in APAC

Summary: Global online population will hit 3 billion by end-2014, with two-third from developing nations and Asia-Pacific home to the largest population. Mobile subscribers will reach 7 billion.


The global online population will hit 3 billion by the end of the year, with two-third from developing economies and mobile broadband penetration reaching 32 percent. 

Describing the latest stats as a "watershed moment", the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said the number indicates ICT was increasingly appealing to the world. 

Brahima Sanou, director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: "Behind these numbers and statistics are real human stories...of people whose lives have improved thanks to ICTs. Our mission is to bring ICT into the hands of ordinary people, wherever they live. By measuring the information society, we can track progress, or identify gaps, towards achieving socio-economic development for all."

According to ITU, the projected online population of 3 billion by year-end will account for some 40 percent of the world's total population. Folks from developing economies will make up more than 90 percent of those who have yet to connect to the Web. 

The Asia-Pacific region will be home to the largest population of online users, while Europe will boast the highest penetration rate of 75 percent. Some one-fifth of the African population will be Web-connected, and nearly two-third of the Americas will be online. 

The number of mobile broadband subscribers worldwide will hit 2.3 billion, of which 55 percent will be from developing nations. According to ITU, this market segment is the fastest growing and will clock double-digit growth rates this year, as more users tap their mobile devices to go online. Here, Africa will lead with 20 percent growth this year, compared to just 2 percent in 2010. 

Fixed broadband, however, indicates slowing growth in developing economies and is projected to hit a global penetration rate of 10 percent by end-2014. Asia-Pacific will again lead growth in this market segment, while Africa will have the lowest penetration rate of less than 0.5 percent.

The number of mobile subscribers will hit 7 billion by year-end, of which more than 75 percent will reside in developing economies. This, ITU noted, underscored growing markets in the developing world. 

In stark comparison, subscribers for fixed telephone lines have been dipping over the last five years, resulting in 100 million fewer subscriptions than there were in 2009. 

According to January numbers from state-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China alone has more than 618 million Internet users, 80 percent of which access the Web via their smartphones. 

Over in India, the country is expected to have over 243 million online users by June this year, up 28 percent year-on-year from 190 million last June. According to stats from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the Indian online population grew 42 percent to reach 213 million in 2013, compared to 150 million in 2012. The mobile Web space saw a large spike to 130 million users, climbing 92 percent from just 68 million in 2012.

Topics: Broadband, Asean, China, India, Tech Industry


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Should come as no surprise

    The "world' is technically the developing world, given that the developing world makes up over 75% of the global human population. And note the very low fixed line Internet adoption rates in developing markets. Fixed line adoption has always been low because PCs were not widely affordable to consumers. Such low fixed line adoption is the reason why Android tablet usage cannot be tracked globally using traditional browser tracking methods. Low fixed line Internet adoption means very low WIFI availability. So in most developing markets, you see Android tablets being used almost exclusively for offline tasks because of limited WIFI accessibility at home and on the go, while the smartphone provides the consumers' Internet connection. iPads are mostly used in the US and a few other western markets where WIFI is abundant because fixed line Internet has very high adoption as a result of high adoption of traditional PCs. So when you attempt to track tablets globally using browser tracking, you only see iPads and that gives the false impression that iPads are more dominant in the global market than they really are.

    This lack of WIFI may eventually limit the adoption rate of tablets - if it isn't doing so already. However, if prepaid MIFI is eventually adopted by carriers in developing markets, that would significantly boost the tablet market.
  • The Chinese and the letter S

    ;>} Besides death and taxes one other thing that will never change in this world is the laughable way the Chinese use the letter "S"....or more correctly, the lack thereof !