ITU predicts 2 billion online users worldwide by year’s end

Statistical data released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) predicts that 2 billion people will be online by the end of 2010. That’s an increase of 600 million people in just the past year and double the number from five years ago.

Home Internet connections worldwide have increased from 1.4 billion to almost 1.6 billion in the last year. The FCC’s drive for its mobile broadband initiative 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.

A regional gap remains, the data found. Europe has a 65 percent penetration while Africa has 9.6 percent. The Americas, which are listed together, have a 55 percent penetration.

Higher download speeds are a growing requisite of accessing online content, the ITU found. At 256kb/s, it takes over 34 hours to download a high-quality movie. The same movie takes over four hours at 2Mb/s, but a little over five minutes at 100Mb/s.

The ITU also noted a major global price gap. It costs six times more per month for broadband in a developing country than in a developed one.