The global state of broadband

The United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development has released its 2015 report into the current state of broadband around the world.

The annual report looks at broadband as a tool to help the UN achieve its development goals and to support sustainable global development.  The UN believes that "the spread of ICT and global interconnectedness has … potential to accelerate human progress".

The 2015 report finds that internet connectivity is reaching saturation in the developed world, with over 82 % of the population online while 121 countries are expected to reach 'mobile saturation' by the end of this  year.

However, in many areas the digital divide is remarkably stubborn because growth is lagging in the developing world.  In these countries only about 34% of people are connected.  By the end of 2015, about 4 billion people will still be offline – that’s about 57% of the population.  Of particular concern to the report’s researchers is that the 'Internet of Everything' will perpetuate this digital divide because citizens in developed countries will be accessing many more connected devices than those in developing countries.

Since 2011 the UN’s Broadband Commission has been pressing five advocacy targets to help promote digital inclusion:

  • A broadband policy – the UN wants every country to have a national broadband plan
  • Broadband should be ‘affordable’
  • Increasing the percentage of households in developing countries with broadband access
  • Increasing internet penetration – UN’s target is 60% worldwide by the end of this year
  • Gender equality – empowering women and girls through access to ICT

The 100-page report is free to download and is packed with data, infographics and case studies from around the world. These range from insights on the national broadband policies of China and New Zealand; projects around the world using mobile connectivity to enhance educational opportunities; and 'smart health' projects in Singapore.