The world has seen impressive growth in areas such as Internet use, particularly in developing countries, the UN Agency International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says.
An ITU mini-report, "The World in 2011", released Tuesday at the ongoing ITU Telecom World conference in Geneva, Switzerland, also confirms that ICT growth has been equally rapid, with close to 6 billion mobile cellular subscriptions forecast by the end of 2011, and around 2.3 billion people using the Internet.
Growth is fastest in the developing world, and among the young, it says,with almost half of the world’s online population now under 25 years old.
That number should continue to increase steadily as Internet penetration continues to grow in schools.
"The developing world’s share of the world’s total Internet users has grown from 44 percent five years ago, to 62 percent today," it says. "Global Internet penetration has grown by more than 50 percent in three years – from 13 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2011."
The new ITU figures provide a quick snapshot of broadband deployment worldwide, revealing gaping disparities in high-speed access. While international Internet bandwidth has grown from 11,000 Gbps in 2006 to close to 80,000 Gbps in 2011, Europeans enjoy on average almost 90,000 bps of bandwidth per user compared to Internet users in Africa, who are limited to around 2,000 bps per user.
The report shows that the world’s top broadband economies are all located in Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
In the Republic of Korea, mobile broadband penetration now exceeds 90 percent, with nearly all fixed broadband connections providing speeds equal to or above 10 Mbps. In comparison, broadband users in countries such as Ghana, Mongolia, Oman and Venezuela are limited to broadband speeds below 2 Mbps.
Dreams and visions of how best to utilize technology to improve lives will be a major theme throughout the event, culminating in a "Manifesto for Change" detailing recommendations for action to help more of the world’s population get connected.
The Manifesto will be created from all discussions taking place around the event, including online contributions, echoing questions raised and views voiced by participants in Geneva and across the world.
At least 250 top leaders from governments, the private sector and the global technology community take part in the conference in connection with ITU's 40th anniversary.
ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré lauded that for the first time in ITU Telecom’s 40-year history, tens of thousands of people from around the world were joining the event using the full range of connected technologies.
The event, he said, will be a genuine “conversation reflecting the concerns, dreams and visions, not just of people physically present at the event” but of those all around the world following the event remotely from their homes, offices, schools, and through a network of 100,000 telecentres around the world.
Reza Jafari, the chairman of the ITU Telecom Board, took the opportunity to announce Dubai as winner of the global bid to host the ITU Telecom World conference in 2012.