Half of the World's Population Will Have Access to the Internet by 2017

Analysts Expect 50% of the Global Population to Have Access to the Web in 2017

by Anton Shilov
09/04/2012 | 11:23 PM

Remember AMD's 50x15 initiative it had in early oughts with the aim at providing  accessible Internet and computers for 50% of the world's population by the year 2015? Apparently that program is about to fail, but analysts believe that by the year 2017, around the half of the global population will have access to the Internet.


In a recently published Forrester ForecastView report, Forrester Research found that 2.4 billion people across the world use the Internet on a regular basis (at least once a month) from home, school, work, or any other location via a PC or a non-PC (mobile) Internet access device. This is expected to grow to 3.5 billion by 2017, representing nearly half of the 2017 overall world population of 7.4 billion. The forecast provides the details of the Internet population in 56 countries across five regions. 

In some countries - mostly developed economies, such as the U.S., the UK, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands - Internet penetration as a percent of the overall population is very high; more than 80% of the population are regular Internet users. In other, mostly emerging markets - such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Nigeria - Internet penetration ranges between 10% and 50%. A key point to note is that while higher PC penetration has driven the adoption of Internet in developed economies during the past two decades, faster mobile penetration in the emerging economies is helping increase the Internet population, thanks to “mobile-only” Internet users.

The figure shows the relative position of the top 20 countries by the number of Internet users in 2012 on our Internet penetration S-curve. Because it looks at the number of users, some smaller European countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, are not represented, despite Internet penetration rates of 83% or more.

As the world moves toward 2017, most of the laggard countries will move up the curve as the Web access becomes more pervasive. The speed at which a particular country moves up the curve will depend on a number of factors, such as affordability of Internet services or Internet access devices, education/skills of the users. interest/motivation of the users, Internet connectivity (i.e., fixed broadband and mobile), infrastructure as well as the government’s vision of the country’s digital future and related policies.