In a startling revelation, a United Nations report has revealed that half of world’s population does not use Internet with pricing remaining one of the prime reasons.
The report by UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says that while the cost of internet has been falling across the globe, it hasn’t fallen enough to become affordable. 3.9 billion people do not have access to Internet – mobile or broadband – with the worst affected being the “female, elderly, less educated, lower income and rural (populations).”
Research has shown that back in 2008 the global average price for a basic fixed-broadband connection was $80 (75 euros) per month and in 2015 the cost had come down substantially to $25 a month, but the major hurdle to mass adoption of the Internet is that in poorer countries fixed-broadband monthly package with just one gigabyte of data still costs more than half of an average annual salary.
Despite the falling prices, fixed-line broadband is out of reach and the best alternative to this is mobile internet. However, the cost of handsets, rather than the monthly subscription, has remained the biggest economic barrier to mobile internet access.
“In 2016 people no longer go online, they online,” the report said. “Yet many people are still not using the internet, and many users do not fully benefit from its potential.”
To increase digital access globally, the UN agency said it needed better data about who was being shut out of the information technology world.
“A data revolution is needed to better understand who uses the internet, where and how,” the report explained.
Addressing the problems with the data set that has been predominate for years, ITU highlighted that mobile phone subscriptions, long cited as a connectivity indicator, no longer reliably reflected actual mobile phone use.
While there are nearly as many mobile subscriptions in the world as there are people, in some regions up to 40 percent of people do not own or use a mobile phone, suggesting the huge number of people with multiple subscriptions had skewed the data.