Over 3bn people now online header image

The internet continues to play an increasingly pivotal role in day-to-day life across the world and this is reflected by the fact close to half of the global population are now online.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), more than three billion people currently have access to the web. This represents growth of 6.6 per cent over the course of 2014.

The number of internet users in developing countries has actually doubled in the past five years, while two-thirds of the developed world population are now online. 

However, there is still work to be done, as some 4.3 billion people worldwide are still not using the web. Nine in ten of these individuals are located in developing nations.

The ITU said 44 per cent of global households will have internet access by the end of this year, which is up from 40 per cent in 2013 and 30 per cent in 2010. 

This figure rises to 78 per cent in the developed world and drops to 31 per cent in developing nations. In the United Nations' 48 least-developed countries, only five per cent of homes are connected.

Social media services were highlighted as driving internet use, as "more and more people create, share and upload content".

According to the ITU, uptake of IT services varies considerably between urban and rural areas even in some of the world's most prosperous nations.

"Rural access is growing much more slowly than urban access and connecting rural households to broadband internet should remain a key priority for policy-makers in every country," the organisation stated.

The divide between urban and rural internet access is apparent here in the UK, with doubts about the effectiveness of the government's current plan to improve connectivity in the countryside.

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