Growth in the number of people with access to the internet is slowing, and more than half of the world’s population is still offline, the United Nations Broadband Commission has said.
It said internet access in rich economies is reaching saturation levels, but 90% of people in the 48 poorest countries have none.
The access growth rate is expected to slow to 8.1% this year, down from 8.6% in 2014. Until 2012, growth rates had been in double digits for years. “We have reached a transition point in the growth of the internet,” the report said.
The commission, set up in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union and Unesco, said the milestone of 4bn internet users was unlikely to be passed before 2020.
“Over half the world’s population — some 57%, or more than 4bn people — still do not use the internet regularly or actively,” the report said. It blamed the cost of extending last-mile infrastructure to rural and remote customers, and a sharp slowdown in the growth of mobile cellular subscriptions.
By the end of this year, 3.2bn people will have some form of regular access to the internet, up from 2.9bn in 2014.
Only about 5% of the world’s estimated 7,100 languages were represented on the internet, the report said.
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