Monday, 27 October 2014

How many people in the world have access to the Internet?

In July, a Soyuz rocket blasted off from French Guiana carrying what could be a legendary payload in the race for total global internet connectivity: four satellites designed to beam fibre internet down to Earth, releasing 'emerging markets' from the shackles of a no or slow-internet world.
The satellites are manufactured by a Jersey-based, Google-backed company called O3b, which stands for the 'Other Three Billion'. According to O3b, its aim is to connect the other three billion, the amount of people that have yet to experience the benefits of Internet access, to the web.
This initiative goes hand in hand with Google's Loon project, using giant, helium filled balloons to drift across emerging markets and distribute connectivity to those who need it.
But Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg also have plans to emancipate the the rest of the unconnected world. Zuckerberg's initiative is called, and aims to connect the remaining 5 billion, with drones being part of the strategy.
So exactly how many people in the world are left unconnected?
Let's first take the figures from Internet World Stats. The latest figures it has are from Q2 2012, so a little out of date. It puts the total world population at 7,017,846,022, with only 2,405,518,376 of those using the Internet.
That leaves 4,612,327,646 human inhabitants left unconnected. Slap bang in the middle of O3b's 3 billion and Zucerkberg's 5 billion.
Interestingly, just over 1 billion of those Internet users reside in Asia. 518,512,109 come from Europe and 272,785,413 come from North America.
Flick to the International Telecommunciations Union though, and it forecasts a 2013 estimate of 61% of the world's 7.1 billion strong population not connected to the web.
That's 4,331,000,000 unconnected citizens of planet earth.
These numbers are tricky for the human brain to quantify, but it's clear that around 60% of the world's population is as of yet an untapped monetary resource for service providers and data haulers. There's a long way to go yet before figures like Zuckerberg or firms like Google will see the financial benefits of establishing connections in emerging markets but gosh are they trying.