Global internet users to reach 7.6 billion within the next 5 years

Experts reckon the number of people using the internet worldwide will exceed the current global population by 2020, with access to broadband and mobile phones set to rocket.

More than half of the world's population will have internet access within the next three years, according to UNESCO, a specialised agency of the UN.

The State of Broadband report, published by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, claims 40% of people worldwide are already using the internet, with the number of global web users set to reach 2.9 billion by the end of 2014.

It suggests the biggest growth area's mobile broadband, with the number of people accessing the internet on phones and tablets set to reach 7.6 billion by 2020.

What this means, if the experts are right, is that global internet users will exceed the current world population, estimated at 7.3 billion, in as little as five years' time.

"Providing Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere, will take determined policy leadership and investment," said Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director general.

"Despite the phenomenal growth of the internet, and despite its many benefits, there are still too many people who remain unconnected in the world's developing countries."

According to the findings in the report, South Korea remains the world's most connected nation, with broadband reaching around 98% of homes, although only 85% are thought to actually use the internet with any degree of regularity.

In that respect, the UK isn't far behind, with the internet now used in some way by 89% of the population. Overall, we come 12th globally in terms of the percentage of people online, putting us ahead of the US (19th), Germany (20th) and Australia (21st).

Iceland tops the table, followed by Norway and Sweden, which all have around 95% of their populations using the internet at present.

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