Following a weekend where much of Egypt had no Internet
service at all,
we're now seeing data that proves just how important the world wide web
is to the society we now live in. Just decades ago, there was no
worldwide inter-connectivity. But the world has become a far smaller
place with the advent of the Internet, and the UN's telecommunications
agency, Hamadoun Toure, has just produced a staggering number to prove
The amount of users worldwide that now use the Internet has ballooned to
two billion. Yes, billion, with a capital B. To put things in
perspective, it's important to realize that there were only 500 million
mobile users globally and 250 million Internet users globally in the
year 2000. In just over a decade, both of those numbers have simply
exploded. Today, a full five billion people have cellphone
subscriptions, proving that mobile use is actually growing faster than
Internet use. But it's arguably easier to get a low-end phone into the
hands of individuals in developing countries compared to a fixed line
connection and a PC.
To say that the Internet has changed the world as we know it is an
understatement. It most definitely has, and it will continue to. Just
look at Facebook. Today, it's possible to keep tabs on thousands of
friends without ever having to call them. All possible because of
widespread Internet use. Estimates now say that 2.08 billion will be
online by the end of the year, with 5.28 billion cellphone subscriptions
to occur by the end of 2010.
This is all the more impressive when you think about the population of
the world. Earth is only home to 6.8 billion people. That means that
today, in 2011, one in three humans surfs online. That's a staggering
number. The Internet didn't even exist 50 years ago, and in just that
short amount of time, nearly a third of the world -- regardless of race,
language, nationality or social status -- has access. Even wilder, 57%
of Internet users actually reside in "developing countries."
With this monumental explosion in Internet and mobile use, something
obviously has to give. That "something" is fixed landline telephones.
For the fourth year in a row, fixed line subscriptions fell, with just
under 1.2 billion active lines today. Mobile phones haven't been around
long, and already there are 5 billion mobile lines compared to 1.2
billion landlines. Amazing stuff. If you're wondering where exactly
people are surfing, the ITU found that the highest density resides in
Europe, with the Americas, former Soviet states and Arab nations
following closely behind. Can you imagine where these numbers will be in
just 10 years from now?