Less Than Half of the World Is Online, and That’s a Huge Problem

Responsive Design ConceptThere is almost one person without Internet for every web page out there. Currently, there are about 4.49 billion webpages online, and according to a new study, there are about 4.2 billion people who don’t have Internet access, a problem that’s more serious than you might think.

Of the 7 billion people around the world, a new United Nations report from the Broadband Commission for Digital Development shows that 4.2 billion don’t have regular Internet access. Initially, the Broadband Commission’s original goal for the end of the year was to get 60% of the world online. Now, it looks like only 43.4% will be by the end of 2015. Worst of all, only 2.8% more are online now than last year, with things getting slower.

It’s believed that the 60% goal won’t be reached until 2021 at the very earliest, and that’s not the only bad news.

  • Just 5% of the 7,100 languages in the world are represented on the Internet.
  • In the developing world, 25% fewer women have Internet access than men. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the number leaps to half (50%).
  • Only about 300 million people gained Internet access this past year.
  • A staggering 90% of the population of the world’s 48 poorest countries is still offline.
  • This is a more serious matter than it appears. The Internet is more than just a place to check Facebook and sports scores.

“Broadband has steadily shifted from an optional amenity to a core utility for households, businesses, and community institutions,” said a White House report from August. “Today, broadband is taking its place alongside water, sewer and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities.”

The issue is that there are still barriers impeding the Internet from spreading, the most obvious of which are economic and governmental challenges. Having an Internet-enabled society requires broadband infrastructure, money, towers, a national plan, and more. Plus, many governments also censor what’s online, as well.

There’s also the issue of language. As previously noted, only about 5% of all languages are represented online. In fact, half of the websites online are in English.

The key to getting the world online is to eliminate these barriers. Once done, the Internet may spread at a breakneck pace, because as Mic puts it, “once the Internet lands, it lands hard.”

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