The number of people worldwide with Internet access reached 3.2 billion at the end of 2015, but the remaining 4.1 billion still could not get online, a Facebook-sponsored study called State of Connectivity 2015: A Report on Global Internet Access.

It is Facebook’s second annual “State of Connectivity” report. It shows that 200 million people gained Internet access in 2015, due to “more affordable data and rising global incomes.”

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Image: State of Connectivity report

The report said the remaining world population needs help to gain access to the Internet and the economic opportunities it enables.

The key highlights:
1. At the end of 2014, there were 2.9 billion internet users globally. By the end of 2015, this figure was predicted to have reached 3.2 billion, 43% of the world’s population.
2. During 2014, lower prices for data and rising global incomes have made mobile data packages of 500MB per month affordable to 500 million more people.
3. The highest estimates of 3G and 4G coverage suggest that 1.6 billion people live outside mobile broadband coverage, an improvement compared to 2 billion at the end of 2014.
4. Most people connect to the internet using mobile devices, which are the only way to get online in many parts of the world. An estimated 2.7 billion people did not have mobile phone subscriptions in 2015.

“Most people now connect to the internet using mobile devices such as smartphones and internet-enabled feature phones, rather than desktop computers with fixed-line connections. The GSMA’s latest numbers suggest that there were 3.2 billion unique mobile Internet subscribers in 2015, very close to the ITU’s estimate for total internet users,” states the report.

“The developed world is largely online, but the developing world is a long way behind,” the report said.

“Urban areas are connected, many rural areas are not. The less money you have, the less likely you are to be online. In many countries, women use the Internet far less than men. And even if the entire world lived within range of the necessary infrastructure, nearly a billion people remain illiterate or otherwise unable to benefit from online content.”

The report said improving access “is a major challenge that will require the cooperation of many stakeholders through innovation and investment.”

If there’s no significant change to current trends, more than three billion people will remain offline by 2020, nearly all in developing countries, the report said.

With input from AFP

Publish date: February 23, 2016 1:39 pm| Modified date: February 23, 2016 1:39 pm

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