International Telecommunications Union wants everyone online by 2015

Half of the world should have broadband access by 2015, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said.

In its 2010 World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report (PDF), which it launched at the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Hyderabad, the company also said it wanted to build an ICT-literate society globally and develop online content and applications .

It said the number of net users has more than doubled since 2003. This means that currently 25 percent of us are using the internet.

However Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said that there was still room for improvement especially in developing countries and more needs to be done to get people online.

The report also found that while 75 per cent of all households have a TV, only 25 per cent have internet access. In developing countries, home internet penetration is as low as 12 per cent. The report said that where home access to the Internet is low, it is particularly important for countries to invest in public internet access. It said many governments across the world are actively promoting public access and some are turning libraries, museums and post offices into Internet cafés. In Bhutan, for example, 40 per cent of all localities have a Public Internet Access Centre.

However, growth in mobile technology is rising at a quicker rate than the internet and is helping to bridge the gap between “more disparate and diverse populations”.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, said: “Today, nearly 90 per cent of the world’s population is covered by a mobile cellular network, and even people in rural and remote areas now have the means to access the global information society”.

He gave an example of the world’s two most populous countries  — India and China — where mobile technology has provided basic telephone services to over 90 per cent of villages. Today, more than half the rural households have a mobile telephone.