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Internet close to two billion users


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ITU predicts milestone will be surpassed by end of year

The total number of users on the internet is set to surpass two billion by the end of the year.

A report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that global usage of the internet will reach the milestone some time during 2010.

The ITU reports that in 2009 some 1.4 billion users were online. By the beginning of 2010 that figure had grown to 1.6 billion and now the group believes that the two billion mark will be fall by the end of the year.

In particular, the group noted growth in broadband networks as helping to push adoption.

The ITU estimates that by 2010 71 per cent of the population in developed countries and 21 per cent in developing nations will be able to access the internet. Broadband connections currently sport an 8 per cent penetration rate.

"Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology," said ITU secretary general Hamadoun Touré.

"It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness."

Also highlighted by the ITU was the growth in mobile internet connectivity. The group noted that 90 per cent of the world's population is now covered by mobile networks,

As mobile broadband platforms become more widespread and affordable, the group sees huge potential for growth particularly in developing countries.

"Mobile phone penetration in developing countries now stands at 68 per cent, higher than any other technology before," said ITU telecommunication development bureau director Sami Al Basheer.

"These countries have been innovative in adapting mobile technology to their particular needs and will be able to draw even greater benefits from broadband once adequate and affordable access is available."

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