UN Broadband Commission report highlights slowdown in internet access growth rate

Growth in the numbers of those who have access to the internet across the globe is slowing down, according to the United Nations Broadband Commission.

Reuters highlighted the latest report from the UN body, which showed that growth is expected to slow to 8.1 per cent this year, dropping from 8.6 per cent last year, and representing a turning point.

The report noted: “We have reached a transition point in the growth of the internet,” and further observed that 4.2 billion folks are not online, stating that “over half the world’s population – some 57 percent … still do not use the internet regularly or actively.”

That’s in line with figures which we heard at the close of last year, with eMarketer estimating that 42.5 per cent of the world’s population would be online in 2015. That forecast predicted that the 50 per cent mark should be reached by 2018, whereas the UN has set a target of 60 per cent global coverage by the year 2020 – which is now looking increasingly shaky.

The difference between richer and poorer countries has never been more pronounced either, with saturation levels being reached in the former, but when it comes to the 48 poorest countries in the world, 90 per cent of the population don’t have internet access.

The report also highlighted other social issues, stating that: “The gender digital divide is also proving incredibly difficult to overcome, reflecting broader social gender inequalities.”

The United Nations Broadband Commission admitted that the milestone of 4 billion internet users is unlikely to be hit before 2020.

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