Internet more accessible and widespread, but the world’s poorest are still excluded from online opportunities, Access Evolution

  • ​​​​​​The global average price of mobile broadband services fell from 1.9% to 1.5% of the average per capita gross national income (GNI).
  • Only 63% of women use the internet in 2022 compared to 69% of men.
  • Nearly three-quarters of the world’s population aged 10 and over now own a mobile phone.
  • Young people aged 15-24 are the driving force behind connectivity, with 75% of young people worldwide now able to use the internet.​​

Geneva – The cost of internet services has gradually decreased worldwide in 2022, according to facts and figures, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) annual global overview of the state of digital connectivity.

The Internet has become more accessible in all regions of the world and among all income groups, based on the assessment of the ITU, the specialized agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies (ICT).

Cost, however, remains a major barrier to Internet access, especially in low-income economies. The current global economic situation, with high inflation, rising interest rates and deep uncertainty, may increase the challenge of extending the reach of the Internet into low-income areas.

“The Internet may be more accessible overall, but for billions of people around the world, it is as out of reach as ever,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “We need to keep internet accessibility moving in the right direction even as the global recession increasingly affects the economic prospects of many countries.”

IS Facts and figures The series presents estimates for key connectivity indicators for the world, regions and selected country groups. The assessment provides context on the evolution of the digital divide, while examining progress towards closing it.

Earlier this year, the ITU reported that 2.7 billion people, about a third of the world’s population, are still not connected to the internet. The figure was an improvement from 2021, but revealed a leveling off of the strong connectivity gains achieved during the onset and height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Internet access is increasing, but not as rapidly and as evenly across the globe as it should,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, director of ITU’s Telecommunications Development Office and secretary-elect of the ITU. ITU. digital darkness. Our global challenge is to commit the resources that would enable everyone to significantly benefit from being connected.”

Lower prices but still too high for too many

According to Facts and figures 2022, the global average price of mobile broadband services fell from 1.9% to 1.5% of the average per capita gross national income (GNI). Mobile broadband allows users to access the internet from a smartphone. The accessibility of this service has become a benchmark for global Internet usage, as it provides relatively inexpensive access compared to landline Internet service.

However, for the average consumer in most low-income economies, the cost of fixed or mobile broadband services remains too high.

A basic mobile data plan in these countries has been found to cost an average of 9% of the average income. This represents a slight decrease from 2021, but remains many times higher than the cost of similar services in higher income countries. The result is that those who can least afford broadband service – and who could benefit most from it – are paying the highest amounts in relative terms.

Earlier this year, ITU and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy for Technology announced ambitious targets for universal and meaningful digital connectivity to be achieved by 2030. Affordability, defined as the availability of broadband access at less than 2 per cent of per capita monthly GNI, has been identified as a priority to ensure that everyone can fully benefit from connectivity.

Among the economies for which data is available for both 2021 and 2022, more countries have met the 2% accessibility target in 2022 for different types of services.

A gender divide within the digital divide

Although women make up almost half of the world’s population, 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men. Only 63% of women will use the internet in 2022 compared to 69% of men, according to Facts and figures 2022. The gender gap is even more concerning in low-income nations where 21% of women are online compared to 32% of men, a figure that hasn’t improved since 2019.​

Overall, the world has moved closer to gender parity in the past three years. Gender parity is defined as when the female percentage of Internet users divided by the male percentage is between 0.98 and 1.02. The gender equality score improved from 0.90 in 2019 to 0.92 in 2022.

In general, the regions with the highest internet usage also have the highest gender parity scores. Conversely, many of the world’s least developed and vulnerable economies have low internet usage, low gender parity scores, and limited progress toward gender parity over the past three years.

Cell phone ownership continues to grow

For the first time, ITU Facts and figures presents global and regional estimates for mobile phone ownership, revealing that nearly three-quarters of the world’s population aged 10 and over own a mobile phone in 2022. Mobile phones are the most common gateway to using the Internet , with the ownership percentage serving as an indicator of Internet availability and access.

Mobile phone ownership, however, remains higher than internet use, especially in low-income countries. Reliance on cellular service could be a further indication of cost impact, with overall prices for cellular-only service less expensive than broadband.

Young Internet users cross a digital threshold

According to Facts and figures 2022young people aged 15-24 are the driving force behind connectivity, with 75% of young people worldwide now able to use the internet, up from 72% in 2021. Usage among the rest of the population is estimated at 65%.

Universality, defined as more than 95% Internet usage, has already been achieved among 15-24 year olds in high-income and upper-middle-income economies. Low-income economies have the largest generation gap, with 39% of young people using the internet, compared to just 23% of the rest of the population.

Among other finds in Facts and figures 2022, mobile broadband subscriptions continue to grow rapidly and are approaching mobile network subscription rates, which are stabilising. Fixed broadband subscriptions also continue to grow steadily, but poor digital skills remain a barrier preventing people from fully realizing the benefits of being online, as well as limiting their ability to avoid its dangers.

Detailed global, regional and country-level analysis for five ITU-monitored rate plans, as well as the full 2022 country-level dataset for ICT prices, will be published in 2023.