The U.N. Claims That Half The World Will Be Internet-Connected By Year’s End

The world is a big place—around 7.4 billion people, according to recent estimates by the United Nation. The U.N. also estimates that nearly half of the world's population will use the Internet by the end of 2016. Not surprisingly, it's mobile connectivity that will lead the charge, as growth in mobile networks and lower costs combine to make the web a more accessible place.

At the same time, the world's poorest sections will still go without Internet access, generally speaking. There exists a significant divide in Internet connectivity between developed countries and those that are developing—about 80 percent of the former's population use the Internet versus 50 percent of the latter's population. And in less developed countries, the number drops to just 15 percent.

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Take Africa, for example. According to the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union (ITU), only around 1 in 10 people are online in Africa's poorest countries. Those who don't have access to the Internet are largely comprised of women, the elderly, those who are less educated, and those who struggle the most financially.

The U.N. would like to see 60 percent of the world's population be online by 2010. As it stands, around 47 percent, or 3.5 billion people, have access to the Internet, leaving 3.9 billion offline.

Whether or not the U.N.'s goal is achieved remains to be seen. There are multiple efforts to increase Internet access in remote parts of the world. It is something that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks often about, and in 2013, Facebook launched an Internet expansion initiative called

The same goes with Google—it's been focused on connecting the world through various efforts, including Project Loon, which aims to deliver Internet via balloons to underserved countries, and Project Skybender, which uses drones.