India has slipped in global rankings on broadband penetration but has made slight progress in the percentage of individuals using internet in the country, according to a United Nations report. The UN Broadband Commission released 'The State of Broadband' report yesterday just ahead of the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals Summit here and the parallel meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development on September 26.
The report says that 57% of the world's people remain offline and unable to take advantage of the enormous economic and social benefits the internet can offer. India ranked 131 out of 189 countries on fixed-broadband subscriptions in 2014, a drop from the 125th rank a year before. On active mobile-broadband subscriptions, India ranked 155, a significant drop from the 113th rank in 2013. India ranked 136th in individuals using the internet in 2014, with 18% individuals using the net, an improvement over the 142nd rank in 2013 when 15.1% individuals used the internet. India ranked 80 among 133 developing countries on percentage of households with internet in 2014 with a 15.3% penetration as compared to the 75th rank and 13% penetration in 2013. The report said that in order to connect everyone, it is vital to increase the online representation of many of the world's languages, especially for regions and countries with high linguistic diversity such as Africa, India and South-East Asia.
"The UN Sustainable Development Goals remind us that we need to measure global development by the number of those being left behind," said Houlin Zhao, who serves as co-vice chair of the Commission with UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova.
"The market has done its work connecting the world's wealthier nations, where a strong business case for network roll-out can easily be made. Our important challenge now is to find ways of getting online the four billion people who still lack the benefits of internet connectivity, and this will be a primary focus of the Broadband Commission going forward," Zhao said. The report said 3.2 billion people are now connected, up from 2.9 billion last year and equating to 43% of the global population. But while access to the internet is approaching saturation levels in the developed world, the net is only accessible to 35% of people in developing countries. The situation in the UN-designated Least Developed Countries is particularly critical, with over 90% of people without any kind of internet connectivity. In total, there are now 79 countries where over 50% of the population is online, up from 77 in 2014. The top ten countries for internet use are all located in Europe. \