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Worldwide Broadband Trends as the World Wide Web Turns 30

Doug Dawson

Hootsuite is the premier tracker of social media usage around the world. They publish numerous reports annually that track broadband statistics and social media statistic from around the world.

They report the following statistics for the end of 2018. The world has been seeing one million new users online every day since January 2018. That means there are 11 new users on the web every second. There are now 5.11 billion mobile subscribers in the world, 67% of the world's population. 4.39 billion people have access of some sort to the Internet, about 57% of the people in the world. There are 3.48 billion people who use social media.

Mobile subscribers increased by 2% in 2018. Internet users increased by 9.1%, and active social media users increased by 9%.

The US and northern Europe both lead the world in Internet access with 95% of the population using the Internet from a landline or cellular connection. The rest of the world is still far behind. While we talk about the great connectivity in parts of the far east, the region has a 60% penetration of people who use the Internet. That's lower than the 63% penetration in Central America and 74% in South America. The areas with the worst broadband coverage are middle Africa at only 12%, eastern Africa at 32% and western Africa at 41%.

The most considerable growth of Internet users is in India, which saw almost 100 million new Internet users in 2018, a 21% increase. That represents 25% of all new Internet users in the world for last year. Some other countries are growing faster, such as Afghanistan at 156%, Cote D'Ivoire at 69%, Cambodia at 56%, Iran at 29%, and Italy at 27%. Hootsuite has been tracking Internet users since 2014 and has seen more than 1.9 billion people added to the Internet since then.

The World Wide Web turns 30 this year (that's hard for many to believe!). It took 16 years to add the first billion users, six more years to add the second billion. The Internet is now adding a billion users every 2.7 years.

The importance of cellular broadband has grown over time. In 2014, 26% of users connected to the web using a cellular phone. Today that has grown to 48%. The average Internet user worldwide uses the Internet an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes per day. The biggest daily users of the web are in the Philippines, with regular usage of over 10 hours per day. In the US the average is 6.5 hours per day.

Google has the world's two most popular web sites with Google search at number 1 and YouTube at number 2. Facebook is in third, with the top ten rounded out by Baidu, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Twitter, Pornhub, Yandex, and Instagram.

GlobalWebIndex reports that 92% of Internet users (about 4 billion) now watch video each month. To put that into perspective, there are an estimated 6 billion people around the world have access to a television.

It's estimated that more than 1 billion users now stream games, with Fortnite being the number one game in the world. There are also a billion people who watch other people play games, with 700 million people who watch e-sports.

About 40% of Internet users now interface with the web using voice. In China and India, over half of users interface the web with voice.

Social media grew by 288 million new users last year. The US still leads with social media, with 70% of Americans internet users connected to at least one social media site. China also has a 70% social media penetration, followed by 67% in northern Europe and 66% in South America. China added 95 million users to social media in 2018, followed by India at 60 million and Indonesia at 20 million. Worldwide the average social media usage is 2 hours and 16 minutes per day. The Philippines again leads in this category where daily usage is 4 hours and 12 minutes. In the US it's a little over 2 hours per day.

While there are still billions with no access to the web, the web keeps growing at a rapid pace around the world. There are efforts by companies like Google, Facebook, and the satellite broadband providers to bring better broadband to the parts of the world with no connections.

By Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting
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