Source: Internet World Stats
Nowadays, a world without the Internet is inconceivable. We Are Social (2019) reports that the number of internet users around the world is continuously growing at a remarkable rate, with approximately 900,000 people going online for the first time every day since July 2018. The year before that, 46.8% of the global population accessed the internet, which is expected to grow to 53.7% in 2021 (eMarketer).
Roughly six out of every ten of the entire world’s population currently have internet access (Oberlo, 2019). The number of internet users in 2019 marks a 327 million year-over-year increase compared to Q3 figures of 2018. This indicates 8.2% growth in the active internet users across the globe, which is over eight times faster than the total population growth, which stands at 1% (Oberlo, 2019).
And with the wide variety of internet activities available, it‘s also essential to know other useful internet usage statistics and more importantly, how internet users make use of their time online.
This article takes a closer look into the growth of the Internet over the years and will discuss the main categories below:
Cisco released the complete Visual Networking Index Global IP Traffic Forecast for 2016 to 2021. The report predicted a remarkable rise in Internet usage with over half of the world’s population to come online by 2021.
At the start of 2021, there will be nearly 4.66 billion internet users worldwide. This is over 59.5% of the worldwide population (DataReportal, 2021). There will also be 27.1 billion networked devices by 2021—a significant jump from 17.1 billion in 2016 (Cisco, 2021).
As seen in the chart below, 46.8% of the global population accessed the internet in 2017 (eMarketer). This number is expected to grow to 53.7% in 2021.
It’s also important to note that the average fixed broadband connection speed will increase from 27.5 Mbps to 53 Mbps. Video, on the other hand, will make up 82% of internet traffic by 2021, up from 73% in 2016 (Cisco, 2021).
In 2020, global internet traffic was 92 times greater than in 2005 (Cisco, 2020). The gigabyte equivalent of all the movies ever made will cross global IP networks every two minutes. In 2021, said gigabyte equivalent will decrease to one minute (Cisco, 2021).
About 13.7 billion global M2M connections will be made, up from 5.8 billion in 2016, and 481.4 million other portable devices, up from 264.7 million in 2016 (Cisco, 2021).
In 2021, there will be 3.2 billion global internet-enabled TVs, up from two billion in 2016. And 46% of global IP traffic will come from fixed wireless access technologies, up from 41% in 2016. Moreover, 52.6% of total internet traffic will come from fixed Wi-fi connections, up from 52.1% in 2016 (Cisco, 2021).
IP traffic will also grow three-fold from 2016 to 2021, which will reach an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes, up from 1.2 zettabytes in 2016. The average internet user will generate 57 gigabytes of traffic monthly, up from 23.9 gigabytes in 2016 (Cisco, 2021).
The number of Internet users in the world is increasing exponentially. Experts recorded a growth of 1,157% in the number of internet users from 2000-2019 (We Are Social, 2019). Furthermore, as of January 2021, there are 4.66 billion internet users across the globe (DataReportal, 2021). An average of 59.5% penetration rate was recorded worldwide.
India has been delivering the largest absolute growth, with a reported quarterly increase of 32 million internet subscribers (5%), and annual growth of 143 million subscribers (29%) (The Economic Times, 2019).
India’s neighboring countries have also been reporting promising growth, although Southern Asia still has the largest unconnected population, with over one billion people across the region still waiting to come online.
Out of its estimated total population of 368 million, around 345 million internet users accessed the Internet in North America in 2020, yielding a penetration rate of 95%. The US is one of the largest markets online, next only to China and India in terms of online audience size. Around a million new users go online every day.
In the first quarter of 2019, internet users in North America spent an average of 3 hours and 57 minutes online through mobile devices, which is more than the time spent daily on non-mobile internet, at 2 hours and 33 minutes only.
In world regions, Asia has the highest number of Internet users at 2.5 billion while Oceania/Australia has the lowest with around 29 million users, based on estimates as of the fourth quarter of 2020 (Internet World Stats, 2021).
Source: Internet World Stats
Around 4.20 billion people across the globe are active social media users as of January 2021 (DataReportal, 2021). This accounts for 53.6% of the total world population.
Facebook still leads the social media race, in both social networks and instant messaging . Similarly, both Facebook and Instagram lead the social network pack, though Youtube, a social network and video platform rolled into one, currently has around 900 million more users than Instagram.
Source: Statista, 2021Designed by
On average, Internet users spend 4 hours and 25 minutes per day while regular social media users spend 2 hours and 16 minutes on a daily basis. About 20% of the world population is using Facebook, which adds up to a staggering 1.42Bn active users worldwide. In terms of browsers, Google Chrome has a substantial lead over the competition.
It’s no surprise that English is the number one language used online (Internet World Stats), which accounts for 25.2% of internet users across the globe. Out of the estimated 97,025,201 people that speak German, 95.1% are Internet users. And the number of Japanese-speaking internet users has grown to a staggering 152% over the last 19 years.
Source: Internet World Stats
A survey done amongst internet users in 2019 shows that 100% of 18-29 years old in the US are internet users (Pew Research Center, 2019). Furthermore, the number of internet users 65+ has seen remarkable growth over the last 19 years. Overall, 90% of the adult US population have access to the internet.
Source: Pew Research Center
As of January 2021, the global average download speed for fixed broadband connections is 96.98 Mbps, while the global average upload speed is 51.28 Mbps (Speedtest, 2021). In 2019, Taiwan overtook Singapore and now has the fastest internet connection in the world with an average speed of 85.02 Mbps. Yemen on the other hand got the slowest internet speed in the world at 0.38 Mbps.
For context, on average, a 5GB movie can be downloaded by someone in Taiwan in just eight minutes, and would take over 30 hours to do by someone in Yemen.
The Internet speed inequality is further reflected by the fact that the top five countries with the fastest internet in the world have 125 times faster download speed than the five slowest countries.
San Marino38.73 Mbps
United States32.89 Mbps
New Zealand32.72 Mbps
Hong Kong31.37 Mbps
Source: Atlas and BootsDesigned by
It’s not all cats, porn, and memes. Here are the top activities the Internet is mostly used for in the US as reported by Internet users themselves. According to the chart,92.3% of the US online adult population access the internet to use text messaging or instant messaging (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2020).
Source: National Telecommunications and Information Administration
It’s hard to imagine that there are still countries nowadays that have no internet access. Vietnam, China, Belarus, and Turkmenistan are included in the long list of countries that block certain sites or have very limited internet access.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) announced Belarus as an “internet enemy” in 2006-2008.
China has the largest number of Internet users in the world but not without extreme censorship, with the government implementing more than 60 Internet regulations.
Internet was introduced to Cuba in the late 90s but became stagnant for various reasons, including lack of funding and government restraints.
The Iranian government on the other hand is known to use speed throttling to frustrate users and limit their communications. As of today, only about half of the population has some kind of internet connection.
Although the Internet is available in North Korea, it is strictly limited. Access to global internet is limited to a smaller group.
Some websites are blocked in Saudi Arabia and access to Wikipedia and Google Translate was also blocked in 2006 because people were using them to bypass filters that the government had placed.
Syria has banned various websites for political reasons besides arresting people that access them. Internet connectivity was shut down late in November 2011, then ten times in 2013 and 2014.
Tunisia censored the Internet, but was significantly reduced when President Zine Ben Ali was ousted. The new government also removed filters on social networking sites.
The press and communication system of Turkmenistan is state-controlled. The telecom market remains very small, although the country began accessing the internet in 1997.
Uzbekistan first had internet towards the end of 1995, but the growth has been slow. There are only approximately 9 million people connected to the internet, out of the country’s total population of 32 million.
Vietnamese internet accessibility is blocked by the government, especially to sites that are critical of the government. Information about overseas political opposition, religious topics, or human rights is also blocked.
In Myanmar, the military has implemented a nationwide internet blackout following protests against the military dictatorship. Access to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has been temporarily blocked in efforts to silence dissent (CNBC, 2021).
Internet access has become a necessity because access to the web is crucial for education, work, job hunting, and staying connected.
Lifeline is a US-government program backed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (Free Government Phone Guide), which provides a monthly phone or Internet service discount for low-income households. The US government is offering almost free Internet program works with Comcast, Charter, Cox communication, and many other communications companies.
Families that can’t afford Internet can’t compete or keep up with their peers (Free Government Phone Guide). These families fall behind with well-off families, in little things like researching for school or looking for a job online. Often. they have no other recourse but cheap Internet service. The good news is that there are companies like Comcast Cable, and Cox who are helping the disadvantaged with $5.99 internet.
How To Receive Government Internet?
To qualify for low-cost Internet service and a low-cost computer, you must:
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