Facebook recently released state of connectivity report for 2015. It has thrown up very interesting insights about adoption of the internet based on developed and developing countries.

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Here are the ‘Good News’.

  1. Number of internet users have increased from 2.9 BN to 3.2 BN in 2015. It covers now 43% of total population.
  2. During 2014, lower prices for data and rising global incomes have made mobile data
    packages of 500MB per month affordable to 500 million more people.
  3. Current 3G and 4G coverage areas suggest that 1.6 billion people live outside mobile broadband coverage, an improvement compared to 2 billion at the end of 2014.
  4. Most people connect to the internet using mobile devices, which are the only way to
    get on-line in many parts of the world. An estimated 2.7 billion people did not have
    mobile phone subscriptions in 2015 though.
  5. Studies suggest that a 10% increase in broadband penetration in developing countries is correlated with a 1.35% increase in GDP.

Here are not-so-good ones.

  • At the end of 2015, 4.1 billion people were not internet users, down from 4.3 billion in 2014.7 Without a step change to current trends, over 3 billion people will remain offline by 2020, nearly all in developing countries. Developed countries now have almost 82 percent population using intervet vs. 35 percent in developing countries.

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  • Over 90% of the world’s unconnected people live in developing countries, primarily in South Asia (1.4 billion in 2014), East Asia and the Pacific (1.2 billion) and sub-Saharan Africa (800 million).17 In least developed countries (LDCs), a sub-set of developing countries with a population of over 900 million, only 10% of people use the internet.
  • Furthermore, people in rural areas of developing countries are 70% less likely to be
    connected than those in urban areas and the majority of the unconnected are women.

Report suggests four key barriers to achieve global connectivity.

  • Availability: Proximity of the necessary infrastructure required for access.
    • It talks about availability of mobile networks (including 3G,4G ). While 2G connectivity covers almost 96 percent of global population, it can not support most internet services. Higher cost (almost three-times) to set-up connectivity as compared to urban centers along with lack of power (thus additional expenses to charge mobile/keep mobile towers running with generators) are key issues for availability.
    • It also shares interesting statistics of mobile technology used for Facebook Android app as used across the world.

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  • Affordability: The cost of access relative to income.
    • It refers to average spend by mobile user as proportion of household income. Typically, developing countries spend higher amount than developed countries to access mobile data. Lower prices and rising incomes have enabled 500 MN more people in 2015 with internet connectivity.

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  • Relevance: A reason for access, such as attractive content in people’s main language.
    • Higher penetration is attributed to content being useful, relatable and accessible.
    • If you consider on global scale, there are around 7000 languages spoken worldwide.
      • Wikipedia is available in 55 languages covering 67% population.
      • Android supports 76 languages covering 76% population.
      • Google translate supports 103 languages, covering 82% population.
      • Facebook support 139 languages, covering 83% population.
    • So, to reach 98% of population with content being primary or secondary language, 800 languages need to be supported by Internet.
  • Readiness: The capacity to access, including skills, awareness and cultural acceptance.
    • Readiness is really educating the user about the internet and benefits of it. It includes skills to find and consume content, Awareness about internet, cultural and social acceptance of using the internet.
    • Studies showed that women (especially in rural areas) lack behind their male counterparts due to cultural issues.

With second year in making, report indicates challenges to getting global connectivity to the last mile on earth. It will take more than just Google Project Loon or Facebook Drones.

Since upside of global connectivity is so huge, that it is worth betting for.

*All facts and figures from FB report – https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/02/state-of-connectivity-2015-a-report-on-global-internet-access/

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