3 billion Internet users in 2014

The latest figures released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) show that, globally, almost 3 billion people will be connected to the Internet by the end of 2014 – though Africa remains in the slow-lane.

According to the group, in Africa, only 20% of the continent’s population will be online by end 2014, up from 10% in 2010.

Additionally, only about one out of ten households on the continent will be connected to the Internet.

Despite household Internet access in Africa continuing to grow at double-digit rates – the region remains at the bottom of the pile with the lowest level of Internet access in the world.

People using the Internet
People using the Internet
Percentage of people using the Internet by region
Percentage of people using the Internet by region (2014)

Decline of fixed-line

The ITU data shows that fixed-telephone penetration has been declining for the past five years, while fixed-line broadband access approaches 10% penetration, globally.

“By end 2014, there will be about 100 million fewer fixed-telephone subscriptions than in 2009,” the ITU said.

Additionally, fixed-broadband penetration growth (at 4.4% globally in 2014), is starting to flatten out, mostly due to a slowdown in developing countries, where fixed-broadband penetration growth rates are expected to drop from 18% in 2011 to 6% in 2014.

In developed countries, fixed-broadband penetration is expected to grow at around 3.5% in 2014 compared with 4.8% in 2011.

“In 2013, the number of fixed-broadband subscriptions in developing countries overtook the number in developed countries; a trend that is expected to continue, given the higher growth rates in developing countries compared with developed countries,” the ITU said.

Africa accounts for less than 0.5% of the world’s fixed-broadband subscriptions, ITU data shows.

“Despite double-digit growth over the last four years, penetration in Africa remains very low,” the group said.

Fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people
Fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people

Mobile drive

Contrasting fixed-broadband penetration, Africa is leading in mobile broadband growth, the ITU said, with mobile-broadband penetration in Africa expected to reach close to 20% in 2014,
up from 2% in 2010.

The total number of mobile-broadband subscriptions is expected to reach 2.3 billion – with over half (55%) of those subscriptions found in the developing world, up from 20% in 2008.

Mobile-broadband penetration levels are still lowest in Africa however, with only 19% of the continent connected. Mobile-broadband penetration levels are highest in Europe (64%) and the Americas (59%), followed by CIS (49%), the Arab States (25%), Asia-Pacific (23%) and Africa (19%).

Mobile broadband penetration by region
Mobile broadband penetration by region

Total mobile cellular subscriptions are expected to reach close to the landmark figure of 7 billion by the end of the year – more than half of which are found in the Asia-Pacific region.

The increase is mostly due to growth in the developing world where mobile-cellular subscriptions will account for 78% of the world’s total, the ITU said.

However, the group noted that mobile growth rates have slowed to their lowest-ever level at 2.6%, indicating that the market is approaching saturation.

“Africa and Asia and the Pacific – where penetration will reach 69% and 89%, respectively by end 2014 – are the regions with the strongest mobile-cellular growth, and the lowest penetration rates,” the ITU said.

Global Mobile subscriptions
Global Mobile subscriptions

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3 billion Internet users in 2014