About one-third of the world's population now has access to the internet, but more needs to be done in order to achieve internet penetration targets as set out in the Millennium Development Goals, the International Telecommunications Union has said in a new report.
Currently, 20.5 per cent of households in developing countries have access to the internet, which the ITU says puts them on target to achieve the 40 per cent target by 2015. The findings are part of a comprehensive report released by the ITU's Broadband Commission for Digital Development on Monday.
The "State of Broadband 2012" report evaluates the deployment of broadband services around the world and tracks progress towards achieving targets set by the commission regarding increasing the affordability and use of broadband. More than 170 countries have been evaluated in the report.
The report ranked countries based on their rates of internet use. Iceland, at 95 per cent, boasts the world's highest internet usage rate, while Timor Leste has the lowest rate at 0.9 per cent. The United States ranks at 23 in the world in percentage of individuals online in 2011.
The ITU said that mobile broadband could provide a platform for achieving an increase in individual use. By the end of 2011, the report said, new mobile broadband subscriptions were outstripping fixed connections by two to one.
The report also notes that a "strong linguistic shift is now taking place online". If current rates of growth continue, the number of users accessing the internet in languages other than English (primarily Chinese) will outstrip English language users by 2015.
Social network participation was also ranked, with the Philippines coming in in the top spot, with more than 70 per cent of active internet users using social networking sites. Indonesia came in a close second, with Malaysia, Brazil and Russia rounding out the top five. The global average rate was around 55 per cent, the report said.
The ITU is the primary United Nations agency dealing with information and communications technology. In addition to gathering statistics and making policy recommendations, it also plays a key role in coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum and satellite orbits. It also develops international telecommunications standards.