|Sept - Dec 2016|
|Global Digital Innovation|
Household access to the Internet is the ultimate way of guaranteeing an inclusive information society in which all people, irrespective of age, gender, employment status, etc. or possible level of disability, can access the Internet within the privacy and proximity of their own home. A policy aimed at universal access to broadband
Internet will eventually ensure access for all households nationwide. Household access is also mostly shared access, whereby all family members can use the same service and share the subscription fees.
The latest ITU data show that by end 2014, almost 44 per cent of the world’s households will have Internet access at home, up from 40 per cent one year earlier and 30 per cent four years earlier. Household Internet access is growing steadily, and strongly, at 9 per cent over the past year. Global growth is mostly driven by developing countries, where household Internet access is growing at 14 per cent as compared with around 4 per cent in developed countries. By end 2014, 78 per cent of households in developed countries will have Internet access, compared with 31 per cent in developing countries and 5 per cent in LDCs. In absolute terms, the number of households with Internet access in developing countries surpassed those in developed countries in 2013, and doubled between 2010 and 2014. A comparison across regions reveals huge differences: while 78 per cent of households in Europe have Internet access and numbers are approaching saturation rates (with 2.4 per cent growth in 2014), only 11 per cent of households in Africa have Internet, and growth remains at a high 18.4 per cent, which is more than twice the world average growth rate.
The Asia and the Pacific region boasts the highest number of households with Internet Percentage of households with Internet access, by level of development, 2005-2014 and by region, 2014 access in absolute terms, with close to 350 million estimated by end 2014, i.e. almost as many as in the Americas and Europe combined.
However, the large majority of them are in China and India. If we take out these, the two largest countries, the number of households with Internet access in the region amounts to (only) 109 billion. Penetration rates in the Asia and the Pacific region are well below the global average and some two-thirds of the household in the region are not yet connected to the Internet. As is the case with other indicators, there is a significant urban-rural divide when it comes to household Internet access. In countries where data are available, rural household access falls far below urban household access, with differences ranging from 4 per cent (meaning that household Internet penetration in urban areas is 4 per cent higher than in rural areas) in highly developed countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea to 35 per cent in developing countries such as Colombia and Morocco. In Guatemala, urban households are 12 times more likely to be connected to the Internet than rural households (Partnership, 2014).
Available data also show that Internet access in rural households is growing slowly much more so than urban access, leading to a widening gap. In low-income countries and LDCs, the differences are presumably even more pronounced, but data are not readily available for those countries. As has been illustrated earlier, network deployment is still limited and affordable services are much less available in rural areas, thus preventing rural households from purchasing Internet services. At the same time, the benefits brought by ICTs and the Internet are especially impactful in rural areas, which often also lack access to other infrastructure and public services. Therefore, connecting rural households to broadband networks should remain a priority for policy- makers in all countries.
In view of these divides and the low level of household Internet access in rural areas of developing countries, public access to the Internet plays a greater role in those areas.(ITU, 2014)