Digital. How many humans have a phone and access to the Internet?

Internet access is becoming “more affordable in all regions of the world and for all population groups, regardless of income level”, according to a report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published on Wednesday. As proof, in 2022, three quarters of humans aged 10 and over have a mobile phone. This device is now the most common means of accessing the Internet.

However, not all humans are in the same boat: according to figures collected by the specialized agency of the United Nations, 95% of people in rich countries have a mobile phone when, in underprivileged countries, the rate of penetration drops to 49%. Above all, not all laptop owners have internet access, especially in low-income countries, where broadband is often still too expensive.

Today, an estimated 5.3 billion people, or 66% of the world’s population, use the Internet. 2.7 billion people, or almost a third of the world’s population, are nevertheless still deprived of this international network. This is an improvement compared to 2021, but “too many people still live in digital darkness”, laments Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who will become the first woman to lead the ITU in early 2023.

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Packages still too expensive

To measure internet access, the UN agency analyzed the median price of mobile broadband services, which are often less expensive than fixed access. These median prices have fallen from 1.9% of gross national income per capita to 1.5% in 2022.

But the cost is still too high for a large number of consumers in low-income countries where a mobile database plan costs 9% of average income. That’s far more than the percentage paid in wealthy countries for similar services, according to the ITU, which has called on all countries to ensure affordable broadband access, which it defines as costing less than 2% of national income. monthly gross per capita.

A disconnection because of the current crisis?

Even if “access to the internet is increasing”, the ITU notes “a certain setback compared to the considerable progress which was made in terms of connectivity at the start of the pandemic”. Covid-19 and its confinements have indeed forced hundreds of millions of people to work or study online.

Women suffer more from the digital divide

Women represent nearly half of the world’s population, but “they are 259 million fewer than men to have access to the Internet”, notes the ITU in its report. Only 63% of women go online compared to 69% of men.

According to the institution, “the gap between men and women is even more worrying in low-income countries”: only 21% of women are connected there, against 32% of men. “A figure that has not improved since 2019,” notes the ITU.

The ITU’s chief economist, Thierry Geiger points out that the rise in the prices of basic necessities could also force many people to go offline. Even though internet access is increasingly seen as an essential service, “food still prevails”, he said. We will have to wait until next year to see the possible effects of the current crisis.

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Digital. How many humans have a phone and access to the Internet?

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