ITU: 2 Billion People Online By Year's End

GENEVA, Switzerland: The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) predicts that by the end of the year, 2 billion people will be online, an increase of 600 million in just the past year and double the number of only five years ago.

According to a just-released statistical analysis, home Internet worldwide has increased from 1.4 billion to almost 1.6 billion in the last year. There still remains a huge regional gap, with Europe at 65 percent penetration and Africa at 9.6 percent, obviously a factor of geography as well as other issues. The Americas, which are listed together, are at 55 percent.

The FCC's drive for mobile broadband as a way to boost that deployment becomes clearer with the ITU prediction that by the end of the year, there will be an estimated 5.3 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide.

Making the point that higher download speeds are a growing requisite of accessing online content, ITU points out that at 256 kbps, it takes over 34 hours to download a "high quality" movie, and over four hours at 2 Mbps, 53 minutes and change at 10 Mbps, and only a little over five minutes at 100 Mbps.

It also pointed to the price gap and the fact that it cost six times more per month for broadband in a developing country than in a developed one. -- Broadcasting & Cable