45% Of the Earth’s Population Online in 2015
In some rather astounding numbers recently released, the internet was estimated to be used by 3.2 billion in 2015, compared to the 7.125 billion that are currently thought to be living. For the first time since the internet’s inception, there are more people connected online– either through home computers or through mobile devices like smartphones– than have ever been connected through phones, or have received a television. It says a lot about the current state of the internet, and where it may be going next.
Smartphones Play a Large Role
78 of 100 people in the United States and Europe use mobile broadband services, and nearly 70% of the world has 3G coverage. This can make a pretty large difference when considering the costs and applications of mobile devices, which can be used for more than just making a call. These days, the average citizen of any country where 3G coverage exists has more access to information, statistics, and even online learning possibilities than some of the brightest minds in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Not only does the geographical limitation become a moot point with the rise of mobile devices, but so do many of the life cost barriers. Over the course of the past 15 years, the amount of internet users has risen from 400 million, to the 3.2 billion currently estimated in 2015, and that number is growing. One reason: More affordable technology. Whereas the hardware required to go online was much more expensive and prohibitive over a decade ago, today there are numerous companies which offer affordable devices, and services, for a fraction of the cost. Even better, there are now possibilities with tethering, which can allow multiple users to connect to one “hot spot” device. In this case, it could be any smartphone that has wi-fi connectivity.
With more than 7 billion mobile device subscriptions expected by the end of 2015, there’s no doubt that these portable devices are dramatically shaping the way that the world is connecting online. VoIP services like Skype offer lower over-the-air call conversation charges than even their cellphone company counterparts, and streaming video and news services are outpacing local cable news networks, and satellite networks, without the need for additional hardware and subscriptions in the home. As a low cost alternative to the ways in which people normally receive news and media, smartphones are having a sizable impact on the global technological landscape.
More Room to Grow
Projects moving forward, including Google’s plans to launch satellites capable of providing high speed, free internet to regions of the world that do not currently have coverage, could further expand the global internet network that’s emerging at a rapid pace. Given enough time, we may see a nearly complete saturation of internet usage, even in regions which are considered “Third World” or “Developing.” In fact, it’s those regions which are reaping the greatest benefits from these developments– which seem to show no signs of slowing down.