GROWTH

Over half of the world’s population use internet–report

The report however note that more work needs to be done to bridge the digital divide

In Summary
  • Mobile internet usage has reached over 4 billion people, this is 225 million more compared to 2019.
  • Of the 3.8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage.
A man using the Internet
A man using the Internet
Image: The Star

More than half of the world’s population is now using mobile internet, a new report shows

The GSMA State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021 revealed that mobile internet usage has reached over 4 billion people, this is 225 million more compared to 2019.

Even with this impressive growth in mobile internet connectivity, both in terms of mobile internet coverage and usage, the report highlights that work must accelerate to bridge the digital divide.

Of the 3.8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage, (“the coverage gap”).

“The far bigger challenge is the 3.4 billion people who live in areas that are already covered by mobile broadband, but are not using it, (the usage gap),” the report noted.

During the last six years, the coverage gap has continued to narrow, the report notes.

In 2014, almost a quarter of the world’s population did not have access to a mobile broadband network. By the end of 2020, that figure was only 6 per cent.

The Covid-19 pandemic made clear the importance of mobile internet access to people’s lives and livelihoods and has accelerated the digital transformation around the world. Mobile is the primary and often the only way to access the internet in low- and middle-income countries,” says the GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mobile internet connectivity to the social and economic well-being of people around the world.

People with mobile internet access were able to stay connected with friends and family, conduct business, gain access to critical information and services, and otherwise ease the monotony of lockdown life.

According to the report, barriers to internet usage include lack of awareness of mobile internet and its benefits, literacy, and digital skills and affordability.

The report notes that these barriersdisproportionately affect specific segments of the population, especially people living in rural areas and women.

“ We must address the key barriers to usage of mobile internet services so as to bridge the digital divide,” said Giusti.

Giusti urged the government and industry to intervene to close this usage gap.