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World to have 3B online users, majority in APAC

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.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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