The State of Broadband 2015

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Digital Development (launched by the ITU and UNESCO in 2010) has just released its The State of Broadband 2015. state_of_broadband_2015_chart

For anyone interested in global internet access and technology development issues, there is good cross-cultural, comparative data in this report.

“A large body of evidence has now been amassed that affordable and effective broadband connectivity is a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Although global mobile cellular subscriptions will exceed 7 billion in 2015 (with nearly half of these subscriptions for mobile broadband), growth in mobile cellular subscriptions has slowed markedly. The total number of unique mobile subscribers is between 3.7-5 billion people (according to different sources), with some observers interpreting this as an indication that the digital divide may soon be bridged.

However, the digital divide is proving stubbornly persistent in terms of access to broadband Internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities. According to ITU’s latest data, 43% of the world’s population is now online with some form of regular access to the Internet. This leaves 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people who still do not enjoy regular access to the Internet. In the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only one out of every ten people is online. The gender digital divide is also proving incredibly difficult to overcome, reflecting broader social gender inequalities.” –From the Introduction

Mapping the Digital Divide

You may or may not be interested in The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers take on the digital divide in the United States but their report issued this summer, Mapping the Digital Divide (July 2015), provides a fair amount of data on internet penetration and demographics. 

From the Introduction:

This report examines the state of the digital divide using new data from the Census’ 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), which we link with the most recent version of the National Broadband Map (NBM). The large scale of the ACS allows us to examine Internet use at a level of granularity that was not previously possible. Our most important findings illustrate how the digital divide reflects factors that influence the demand for Internet, such as household income, and also the costs of providing it (e.g. population density). Although we consider several potential explanations for the digital divide, our main goal is not to measure the causal impact of any particular factor, but rather to characterize disparities in Internet access and adoption as they exist today. Overall, the evidence shows that we have made progress, with the largest gains occurring for those groups that started with the least. While this suggests the beginning of convergence toward uniformly high levels of access and adoption, there is still a substantial distance to go, particularly in our poorest neighborhoods and most rural communities, to ensure that all Americans can take advantage of the opportunities created by recent advances in computing and communications technology.