Figures from the ITU indicate there will be almost three billion internet users by the end of the year, two-thirds of them in the developing world.
This corresponds to an internet-user penetration of 40 percent globally - 78 percent in developed countries and 32 percent in developing countries. More than 90 percent of the people who are not yet using the internet are from the developing world.
The ITU, a UN body, said the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally by the end of the year, with 55 percent of these subscriptions in the developing world.
Mobile-broadband penetration levels are highest in Europe (64 percent) and the Americas (59 percent), followed by CIS (49 percent), the Arab states (25 percent), Asia-Pacific (23 percent) and Africa (19 percent).
“The newly released ICT figures confirm once again that information and communication technologies continue to be the key drivers of the information society,” said ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré.
The statistics also confirm that fixed-telephone penetration has been declining for the past five years. By the end of the year there will be about 100 million fewer fixed-telephone subscriptions than in 2009.
Mobile-cellular subscriptions will reach almost seven billion by the end of 2014, and 3.6 billion of these will be in the Asia-Pacific region. The increase is mostly due to growth in the developing world, where mobile-cellular subscriptions will account for 78 percent of the world’s total.
But the data shows that mobile-cellular growth rates have reached their lowest-ever level (2.6 percent globally), indicating that the market is approaching saturation levels.
Africa and Asia and the Pacific, where penetration will reach 69 percent and 89 percent, are the regions with the strongest mobile-cellular growth (and the lowest penetration rates).
Penetration rates in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Arab states, the Americas and Europe have reached levels above 100 percent, and are expected to grow at less than two percent in 2014. The region with the highest mobile-cellular penetration rate is the CIS.
By the end of 2014, fixed-broadband penetration will have reached almost ten percent globally, said the ITU. It said 44 percent of all fixed-broadband subscriptions are in Asia and the Pacific, and 25 percent are in Europe.
In contrast, Africa accounts for less than 0.5 percent of the world’s fixed-broadband subscriptions, despite double-digit growth over the last four years.
Europe’s fixed-broadband penetration is much higher compared with other regions and almost three times as high as the global average.