More than half the world we be online by 2017 header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

More than half of the world's population will have access to the internet by 2017. 

This is according to the United Nation's latest State of Broadband Report, which has revealed some 2.9 billion people will have access to the web by the end of this year, which is more than 40 per cent of the global population. 

South Korea is currently the nation with the highest number of household broadband connections, with 98 per cent of homes in the country having access to the net. The UK is ranked 12th in terms of the amount of the population who are online, coming in ahead of the likes of Japan (15th), the US (19th), Germany (20th) and Australia (21st).

Overall, there are now 77 nations with more than half of the population online, an increase on 70 last year. Iceland leads the way with 96.5 per cent of people in the country having internet access. 

There is still some way to go to improve web access in sub-Saharan Africa with a number of nations in the region, such as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Niger, having less than two per cent of the population online.

Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the UN's International Telecommunication Union, stated: "Broadband uptake is accelerating, but it is unacceptable that 90 per cent of people in the world’s 48 least developed countries remain totally unconnected.

"Connectivity is not a luxury for the rich - rather, it is the most powerful tool mankind has ever had at its disposal to bridge development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment."

Mr Toure's sentiments were echoed by Irina Bokova, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's director-general. She said that despite the impressive progress being made, too many people are still unconnected and it will take a sustained effort to bring the benefits of the web to everyone in the world.