International Telecommunications Union, ITU has said that over the past 15 years, Information and Communication Technologies, ICTs have grown in an unprecedented way, providing huge opportunities for social and economic development.
This is contained in a new figures released by the UN agency which track ICT progress and show gaps in connectivity since the year 2000, when world leaders established the United Nations Millennium Development Goals MDGs.
It indicates that there are more than 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, up from 738 million in 2000. Globally, 3.2 billion people are using the Internet, of which two billion live in developing countries.
ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, at the launch of the report at the 2015 WSIS Forum in Geneva, said, “These new figures not only show the rapid technological progress made to date, but also help us identify those being left behind in the fast-evolving digital economy, as well as the areas where ICT investment is needed most.”
Also, the Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr. Brahima Sanou, said, “ICTs will play an even more significant role in the post-2015 era and in achieving future Sustainable Development Goals as the world moves faster and faster towards a digital society.
“Our mission is to connect everyone and to create a truly inclusive information society, for which we need comparable and high-quality data and statistics to measure progress.”
The figures show that between 2000 and 2015, Internet penetration has increased almost seven-fold from 6.5 to 43 per cent of the global population with the proportion of households with Internet access at home advanced from 18 percent in 2005 to 46 per cent in 2015.
ITU figures also indicate that four billion people in the developing world remain offline. Of the nearly one billion people living in the Least Developing Countries, LDCs, 851 million do not use the Internet.
Mobile broadband is the most dynamic market segment, with mobile-broadband penetration globally reaching 47 per cent in 2015, a value that increased 12-fold since 2007.
In 2015, 69 per cent of the global population will be covered by 3G mobile broadband, up from 45 per cent in 2011.
There is also a rapid extension of 3G mobile broadband into rural areas, and ITU estimates that 29 per cent of the 3.4 billion people worldwide living in rural areas will be covered by 3G mobile broadband by the end of 2015.
Among the four billion people living in urban areas, 89 per cent will have access to 3G mobile broadband.
Fixed-broadband uptake is growing at a slower pace with a seven per cent annual increase over the past three years.
While the prices of fixed-broadband services dropped sharply between 2008 and 2011 in developing countries, they have been stagnating since then and even increased slightly in LDCs.
The figures indicate that broadband is now affordable in 111 countries, with the cost of a basic (fixed or mobile) broadband plan corresponding to less than five per cent of Gross National Income, GNI per capita, thus meeting the target set by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
The global average cost of a basic fixed-broadband plan, as measured in PPP$ (or purchasing power parity $), is 1.7 times higher than the average cost of a comparable mobile-broadband plan.

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