Some 4.2 billion people do not regularly use the Internet. In the least developed countries, only about 10 percent of the population regularly is online. For obvious reasons, policymakers and firms want that gap closed.
As difficult as some problems might seem, perspective and underlying rates of change matter.
The International Telecommunications Union already predicts that, by 2020, of an estimated 9.2 billion mobile subscriptions expected to be in service by 2020, 7.7 billion will have mobile Internet access.
That works out to about 71 percent of mobile phones using Internet access services. What that means is that most smartphone users also will be using Internet access.
By 2020, the ITU predicts, about 70 percent of the world’s population will be using a smartphone. If some 71 percent of mobile users also use the Internet, you get the picture.
As wide as the digital divide now appears, the gap is going to close fast. Where today 43 percent of people routinely use the Internet, within about five years that percentage will be 71 percent. That is rapid progress by any measure.