International

Just How Connected Is The World?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to reach the whole world, but for that to happen, Internet accessibility has to be available to the entire world.

As part of a global partnership, Facebook teamed up in 2013 with Twitter and Google Plus to launch the Internet.org initiative that aims to bring affordable Internet to nations where it’s otherwise unobtainable. Enabling consumers in emerging markets has become the next big thing, and for social media networks it opens up potential to also open up commerce opportunities in emerging markets that have been vastly untapped for years — until recently.  The social network giant has only recently dabbled with the concept of how to monetize Facebook through commerce opportunities. Now, it’s looking to scale that concept globally.

But first they need to connect consumers.

On Feb. 24, Facebook released its report titled “State of Connectivity:2014,” showing just how many people around the world don’t have adequate means to gain Internet access. The study, connected to Internet.org, looks at which countries are connected, which countries aren’t, and what impact it has on those unconnected countries.

“By early 2015, 3 billion people will be online,” the report said. “This is an incredible milestone, but it also means that only 40 percent of the world’s population has ever connected to the Internet.”

The report also highlights the impact of widespread, global Internet accessibility.

“The Internet is a powerful tool for connecting people to information, ideas, resources, services, and other people. It’s driving the global economic engine, creating new jobs, transforming industries, and in some cases, creating entire new industries. With the benefit of connected devices, people from all over the world are changing the way business is done, how governments relate to their people, and people relate to their governments. And yet, while a lot of people have access to the Internet, most people do not. The Internet is still only accessible by a minority of people,” the report said.

94 Percent | The Percentage Of Developing Countries Accounting For The Global Offline Population

“The United States and Germany, for example, have connectivity rates as high as 84 percent while Ethiopia and Myanmar are connected at rates below 2.5 percent,” the report highlighted.

The report also details how Internet connectivity relates to commerce and economic growth: “Access to the Internet helps improve commerce for the simple reason that communication costs are built into the cost of doing business, both for the consumers and producers of information, and when that cost is lowered, and information can travel more easily, income increases across.”

90 Percent | Percentage Of The World Living Within Range Of Mobile Signal

Affordability is the impediment to accessibility.

According to the report, monthly data plans are only affordable to 50 percent of the world’s population. Reducing the amount of data in mobile plans could help increase that accessibility rate greatly, data shows. Developed countries had close to 99 percent in some cases, but for developing countries in areas that don’t have access to affordable Internet, that figure is only 32 percent. More affordable data plans, however, boost that figure up to 90 percent.

“In locations like Sub-Saharan Africa where 69 percent of people live on less than $2 per day, only 53 percent of the population can afford the Internet with a cap of 20MB, an amount that provides just 1-2 hours of Web browsing a month,” the report said. “In order for the entire world to connect to the Internet, we will have to address the three barriers to access: infrastructure, affordability and relevance.”

53 Percent | Percentage Of World Population Who Are Able To Produce Relevant Content Online

People are not only unconnected, but they are unaware and unable to access content that pertains to their needs. Not enough regions, populations or languages are part of the Internet seen today. In developed countries, the relevant online information is 92.2 percent; this compares with 44.6 percent of relevant content in developing countries.

“Many people are not online because they are either unaware of the Internet or because there is limited relevant content in their primary language. To provide relevant content to 80 percent of the world would require sufficient content in at least 92 languages,” the report said.

37.9 Percent | Percentage Of Global Population Using Internet Once A Year

“The unconnected are disproportionately located in developing countries,” the report said, and the rate of Internet adoption is slowing, not growing. “The rate of growth declined for the fourth year in a row to just 6.6 percent in 2014 (down from 14.7 percent in 2010). At present rates of decelerating growth, it won’t reach 4 billion people until 2019.”

According to the report, 78 percent of the developed world has proper Internet access, but just 32 percent of those in emerging countries have the same access availability. When looking at developing countries, the number is even less at 29.8 percent.

“The divide between the connected and non-connected world falls principally on the line between the developed and developing world. …Without the cooperation of industry, governments and NGOs working together to improve the global state of connectivity by addressing the underlying reasons people are not connected to the Internet, connectivity may remain permanently out of reach for billions of people,” the report said.

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