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Three billion folks will be on the Internet come the end of 2014

At the end of this year, there will be three billion users on the Internet – approaching half the world's total population of around seven billion – according to a report from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union. And the ITU claims that two-thirds of these surfers will be from the developing world.

The report produced a number of interesting global statistics, including the fact that in the Americas, two-thirds of the population will be online as 2015 rolls around, and 20 per cent of African people. Europe, however, will have the highest figure with 75 per cent of citizens online.

The ITU also crunched some mobile broadband figures, and the number of mobile surfers will hit 2.3 billion worldwide at the end of the year – with 55 per cent of these expected to come from emerging nations.

Mobile broadband is showing the fastest growth across the globe, with two-digit growth rates throughout the year, and Africa sitting at the top of the table with a 20 per cent growth rate for 2014 (compared to 2 per cent just four years ago). Fixed broadband, however, is slowing down in terms of growth in emerging nations – penetration should reach 10 per cent by the close of 2014.

Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, commented: "Behind these numbers and statistics are real human stories. The stories of people whose lives have improved thanks to ICTs. Our mission is to bring ICTs 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."

Of course, mobile broadband penetration may well accelerate to faster rates still if schemes such as Google's Project Loon get off the ground in the future.