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The Internet

Only One Quarter of the Planet To Be Online By 2012 206

Stony Stevenson writes "Researchers are predicting that one quarter of the world's population will be connected to the internet within the next four years. According to the report by Jupiter Research, the total number of people online will climb to 1.8 billion by 2012, encompassing roughly 25 percent of the planet. The company sees the highest growth rates in areas such as China, Russia, India and Brazil. Overall, the number of users online is predicted to grow by 44 percent in the time period between 2007 and 2012." Is it just me or does that seem incredibly small?
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Only One Quarter of the Planet To Be Online By 2012

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  • It may be small... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:24AM (#23947927)
    It does seem small, but you have to consider that most of the world doesn't live up to 'industrialized' and 'information age' standards of living. Its actually a pretty incredible number.
    • by defnoz ( 1128875 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:30AM (#23948017)
      In other news, 1/3 of the world's population don't have access to clean water and/or enough food. If only they could write about it in their blag.
      • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:58AM (#23948403)

        OK, I'm going to go completely outside the box for a moment and risk getting mocked for this, but what the hell...

        What if we did get people without food and clean water online?

        There is enough clean water for everyone. There is enough food for everyone. It isn't getting to the people that need it for various reasons; corruption, war, market failures. The common thread in these is a lack of correct information; corruption involves people deliberately misrepresenting information, war makes it dangerous to collect information, and market failures are normally trigged by bad information.

        Areas where people starve are normally pretty opaque to information and that makes it harder to help people. If we were to give people in these areas better means of communication might it help allocate resources to solving the problems of food, water etc? It would be similar to how mobile phones were used to let the world know what was happening in Burma not long ago. Better information means better action.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by scubamage ( 727538 )
          Well you also have to worry about warlords intercepting food shipments. Or people being afraid of food shipments (especially from the US) because they would use packaging designed to look exactly like unexploded bomblets. So a starving person had just as much of a chance of blowing themselves up as getting some poptarts. There is misinformation, but there are also a lot of powerplays with fear that are well known.
          • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @10:17AM (#23948721)
            Civilians in areas requiring aid could, if they were connected, report the movement of warlords (and as often, government troops) that might interrupt food shipments. Having lines of communication could also provide a way of verifying the contents of packages.
            • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:20AM (#23949727)
              Civilians in areas requiring aid the movement of warlords...that might interrupt food shipments.

              How do you keep the lines of communications open against the opposition of either the local warlord or whoever represents legitimate - centralized - authority? It can shorten your life to be in possession of a radio. The mesh network has the potential to expose everyone who is part of the mesh.

              • True; but stopping members of the mesh implicating each other is a technical problem, and seems quite solvable, and for your second point - history has shown no matter how many people they publicly beat to death for owning a phone or mesh networking laptop, there will always be someone willing to take risks and get the message out.
                • Hey, why don't get just give them guns instead of computers. Sounds like a more effective way to deal with the warlord problem you've described. Plus, it's hard to beat to death someone that's shooting you.
          • Or the local religious leaders come out with a statement that the food is either prepared with forbidden products(like pig), or contain stuff like birth control - which is why we STILL have polio around in the wild. The local religious leaders came out that the shots were really birth control, so nobody got them, so the disease is still around.

          • by Moofie ( 22272 )

            "Or people being afraid of food shipments (especially from the US) because they would use packaging designed to look exactly like unexploded bomblets."

            Hold on, what? Are you asserting that the United States packages food aid to look like bomblets? I may be ignorant, but that seems far-fetched.

            • The US had some yellow bomblets that looked an awful lot like the yellow food packages being airdroped. I believe the food packages are now pink to differentiate them from the bombs.

              • I have to believe that is just a horrific coincidence, because not even the worst US military planners would do that. Although, all cluster bombs are bad for that reason. Small, brightly coloured unexploded munitions are not something we should be spreading around.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 )

          How do you propose we get Internet access to these people? We can't even get food or water to them. You listed corruption, war, and market failures as reasons for that but then you ignore them when you start talking about the Internet. Food and water don't need much infrastructure for transport, just people. Unfortunately, the Internet doesn't work like that.

          • I'm not talking about laying down fibre optic broadband. I am talking about anything which can provide a means to get information out. In Burma, it was mobile phones.

            I don't have an exact technical solution in mind, but it isn't outside the realms of possibility. The military set up very advanced communication networks swiftly in hostile situations. Why can't the same techniques be used in peacetime?

            Yes, deploying such things would hit the same problems as deploying food and water - but the advantage be

            • by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:30AM (#23949903)

              You are right about the military being able to set up advanced communications in a war zone but I doubt those systems are meant to stay for very long. It is a noble goal, but there are goals that should be reached first. The Internet is a luxury, not a basic necessity. Once the basic necessities are taken care of in a place, only then can we consider helping them acquire luxuries.

          • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

            How do you propose we get Internet access to these people? We can't even get food or water to them. You listed corruption, war, and market failures as reasons for that but then you ignore them when you start talking about the Internet. Food and water don't need much infrastructure for transport, just people. Unfortunately, the Internet doesn't work like that.

            Right on. Considered the list of obstacles, the only solution can only be satellite-based. Not the kind with parabolas and POTS lines but more the satellite-telephone type. I'm not too aware of technologies in that domain but if you can transmit voice using a handset via satellite, then you can use that to dial some computer in the world and communicate like dial-up modems do. The cool thing about information is that you can use satellites (or even blimps, but these may be easier to gun down) to transmit i

            • Here in Canada, we have a provider called Infosat that provides both data and voice VIA sat links. They have two systems, a Geostationary satellite, and thier "Iridium" system that uses multiple LEO sats.

              The company I work for currently uses the geostationary satellite (with a paribolic dish) for data and get speeds of 128k/500k (but > 500ms latency). We sometimes have problems getting that dish alined properly, and as a result, the connection drops. We were looking into a backup system for when tha
              • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )
                Oh I'm not surprised at all, and I wouldn't be surprised the least if no decent such solution existed as of right now. But it could, technically, even if that's 15 years down the road (Sudanese refugees won't get satellite broadband for next Christmas, we know that, it's more a longer term problem).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          >> What if we did get people without food and clean water online?

          C134n H20 4 ch34p!!! G3+ h3r w3t and h341thy!!! Fa5+ 5h1ppi4g, 10w pr1c3z!!!

        • by sherriw ( 794536 )

          Except... if you lack clean drinking water and basic necessities... you typically can't read or write. Though as far as connecting people in developing countries with those who can help them... try looking into various microfinance type website like They are already doing something like this.

          • 1) Being poor doesn't necessarily make you stupid, or even uneducated. Sometimes people are hit by really shitty circumstances 2) Clever user interfaces can give some functionality to people even if they can't read
            • Being poor doesn't necessarily make you stupid, or even uneducated.
              It doesn't make you stupid, but it can keep you from becoming smarter if you start out stupid. Education is hard to come by in poor countries because the teachers often have to stop teaching to take care of sick relatives.
            • by Omestes ( 471991 )

              In much of the third world though, people ARE uneducated. Education often needs stability to happen, there is no real point in reading Shakespeare, or learning differential equations if your worried about genocide happening to you, or more worried about finding water.

              Also malnutrition does lead to stupider people, especially when it hits children. Your brain needs nutrients to grow, take away those nutrients and it hinders development, which, for all intents and purposes, leads to stupidity.

        • by jdgeorge ( 18767 )

          There is enough clean water for everyone. There is enough food for everyone....

          Hmmm.... What is the basis for your assertion that there is enough clean water and food for everyone in the world?

          • Well, if you do the math...

            Every single person on the face of the earth could live on the land (not water) of Texas, and have less population density than New York Metro area.

            The outflow of the Columbia River (between Oregon and Washington) would provide each person with 23 gallons of fresh water EACH day.

            The farmland in the rest of the US and Canada - not including Texas (where we live), and not including any forests, parks, roads, cities, etc - would allow for 0.6 acres per person, enough to grow fo

        • Better information means better action

          Are you using the same internet I'm using?

          More information != better information, especially as the traditional sources of propaganda are getting much better at using the internet.

          This post started as a joke, but I think there's an essence of truth in it... Reminds me of a recent article regarding the fact that news reporting has become more homogenous as the internet becomes a larger channel for distribution of news.

          But you're right that greater visibility of injus

          • A scholar using Wikipedia has great access to information, because they can get the overview from the wiki page then check out the sources. Having an abundance of information is only problematic for people who don't know how to process it, and we are talking about experts using the information gathered on the ground to plan efficient responses to humanitarian crises.

            It isn't a perfect solution. Sure, someone will get a bullet through the head for owning a mobile phone - but I think overall that it will im

      • by 2.7182 ( 819680 )
        Dead on! I think this just shows how oblivious some people are to how poor the world is in general compared to US etc.
      • by mjpaci ( 33725 ) *

        I don't have the statistics, but you need to also consider what % of the population has access to reliable electricity. It's a little annoying to me that people are focused on getting people online when other, more basic services should be addressed first. Being online actually costs money.

        Also, what % of the world's population WANTS to be online. Living in the US and having access to non-dialup since 1998 and dialup since 1994, I find it weird that my better half's brother in Germany (non city, not Wyoming

    • by aurispector ( 530273 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:32AM (#23948055)

      Seriously! Doesn't anyone read the news? Most of the world's population lives in abject poverty compared to western standards. All you need to is see that pic of the world at night from space - lights visible in the US, Europe, Japan and a few scattered major cities - everything else is dark.

    • Re:Not small at all (Score:3, Informative)

      by antirelic ( 1030688 )

      "IPv4 uses 32-bit (four-byte) addresses, which limits the address space to 4,294,967,296 (232) possible unique addresses. " []

      Thats alot of people using a system that never really intended to accommodate such a massive volume of users.

    • by cunamara ( 937584 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:40AM (#23948181)
      But then again, roughly one half of the Earth's population lives on $3 per day or less. I would imagine that their priorities aren't broadband and a laptop. Not dying today from malnutrition might rqank a little higher on their priorities.
      • $3 per day is $91.43 per (average) month, enough for FiOS ($42.99) and a rather nicely configured ThinkPad (Business Leases starting at $31/mo). What else could one possibly want?
        (Additional investments: Box (60 sheets) o' Kleenex: $2, Bottle (2oz) o' Neutrogena hand lotion: $4.) ;)
    • Yes, I agree completely. To us Slashdot readers, it might be hard to imagine a world without broadband access to the Internet, but even disregarding the fact that the vast majority of the Earth's population just doesn't have the economy to consider playing around on the Internet, to people who aren't programmers, the Internet is almost exclusively just a way to communicate with other people. And, believe or not, but there are lots of other ways to do that.

      To me, 25% seems almost incredibly much. I'd have

    • by yuna49 ( 905461 )

      Anyone who thinks these figures are small should take a look at the reported rates of telephone "penetration" by country as reported by the International Telecommunications Union [].

      In general there were well under 10 telephones (including both wireline and cellular) per 100 people in most African countries as of 2004. For some countries the figure is between zero and five per 100. In developed countries this figure is usually over 100.

      The data for Internet usage per 100 population follows a similar pattern

  • by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:25AM (#23947935) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, it's just you.

  • Is it just me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by debest ( 471937 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:28AM (#23947979)

    ... or do you not realize how poor most of the planet is?

  • by tidewaterblues ( 784797 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:29AM (#23947993)
    Without seeing the survey I can't confirm this, but I would suspect that they are only counting Internet connections to the home or office. The number is much larger when you consider the number of people in developing and 3rd world nations who access the Internet in public venues, like cafes and libraries. But getting a good count here would be very complex.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I have yet to see an internet cafe here in India. Two types of people exist.. the ones with access to the internet because they work in software and make money.. and the day laborers who don't know what a computer is.

      There is no middle ground. You will not see a day laborer hitting up a cafe to check his email. Just no.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:29AM (#23947999)
  • Not small at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:29AM (#23948001)
    It's easy for us 1st world Westerners to forget what life is like most people in China, India, Africa, etc. Sure, things are getting better in those places, but that's only for the middle and upper class.
  • by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:30AM (#23948023) Journal
    About one quarter of the world doesn't have electricity. (1.6 B according to IEA [], 2 B according to Greenpeace []).
  • by iTowelie ( 1118013 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:31AM (#23948029)
    Isn't that all of us? I thought the Earth was covered by 75% water? iT
  • yes, it's small (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D ( 1160707 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:31AM (#23948037)
    According to Wikipedia [], there are 1.407 billion people online in 2008. So they're predicting a 30% increase over 4 years? Considering in the 1990s we would have had a 1500% increase over 4 years (again, using Wikipedia as a source: 100% increase per year), that seems remarkably underwhelming.
    • Look up logistic curve []. It's a lot easier to grow fast when you're small.

    • in the 1990s we would have had a 1500% increase over 4 years

      It might interest you to learn that it's no longer the 1990s.

      Internet usage has increased 290% [] in the last 8 years, or an average of less than 20% per year. If growth slowed from 100%/yr in the 1990s to 20%/yr in the 2000s, it should be no surprise that the next few years will see growth that's slower yet.

      (This is, incidentally, a nice example of the folly of blindly extrapolating exponential growth rates; if the 2000s had seen the 100% growth r

  • IPv4 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smitty97 ( 995791 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:31AM (#23948039)
    So then 4,294,967,296 addresses should be enough for everybody
    • by kellyb9 ( 954229 )
      If addresses were statically assigned to one person yes. But they aren't. I use one address at work, one address at home. Most people probably do. Then consider how many addresses are being used to the billions of servers floating out there. Considering all of this, it's amazing they've been able to stretch v4 so far with NAT and other techniques.
  • by Orleron ( 835910 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:38AM (#23948143) Homepage
    The number of people online divided by the world's population is a not fair comparison. Think of all the infants and toddlers that aren't online because they are too young, or all the people who are too disabled to use the Internet. Even if you theoretically included the people who didn't have electricity or money to get onto the 'net in the calculation, it still doesn't make sense to include those who are otherwise not physically able to use a computer if they had one. I would like to see the percentage of people on the 'net relative to the number of people who CAN be on the yet, as in physically able.
    • There's also a significant portion of older people who will never be on the net regardless of availability or price, because it's just an uncomfortable idea for them. Although it starts getting hard to measure, a more useful figure would be how many people who WANT internet access have it.

      I had a neighbor for example who died a little less than a year ago. He was 98 at the time he passed. Despite being a very interesting man to talk to, technology just wasn't his thing. He generally didn't even watch tel

  • ... will be using dial up.
  • Illiteracy (Score:4, Informative)

    by onosson ( 1107107 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:41AM (#23948189) Homepage
    I thank the overall literacy rate must be related to this - even abundant access to a computer won't mean much if you can't read. According to the OLPC website [], "Most of the nearly twoâ"billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade." Also, let's not forget that much of the world does not have access to electricity on a regular basis. Also from the OLPC website []: "...XO can be recharged by human power. This is a critical advance for the half-billion children who have no access to electricity."
  • When you consider that some people live in huts and hunt their food, food which varies from plants to animals to other really don't seem odd that not everyone is surfing to me. In all seriousness though, very little of the planet can afford such frivolous things like the internet, or even running water for that matter.
    • It is fascinating to see how far behind other areas of the world are. No electricity, no plumbing. They've never heard of the Internet before, and probably never a computer. And here we are, complaining about a lack of iPhone features and net neutrality.

      You have to wonder -- by the time the rest of the world catches up to where we are today, where will we be?
  • It's just you... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bushboy ( 112290 ) <> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @09:57AM (#23948387) Homepage
    ... in reality, it's incredibly large!

    Having lived in what is effectively a third world country, South African, for about 15 years, one thing is painfully obvious when compared with life in a first world country. The vast majority of people have little to no access to electricity, let alone the internet!

    It's very hard to understand this unless you witness it first hand - it's all to easy to think "but surely everyone needs to be on the internet?"

    The reality is for most of humanity, the struggle to put food on the plate and shelter themselves is the main driving force in their daily lives.

    I'm therefore suprised at how many people are online, not how few - completely the opposite reaction to the parent.
  • Tool or toy. (Score:4, Informative)

    by ROMRIX ( 912502 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @10:05AM (#23948521) Homepage

    Is it just me or does that seem incredibly small?

    Firstly you need to think of how many third world countries there are and also developed nations where there is a vast agricultural society where the internet is just an irrelevant "fancy" for city dwellers to keep themselves entertained. You and I might find the internet a necessary tool for our trades and daily lives but going back 20 or 30 years, could you see yourself becoming so dependent on such a device as a people? Instant information and communication have become woven into the very fabric of who we are but there are many more people out there that simply have no use for it. It steals idle time like heroin steals life. You only need to walk away from it for a few days, or hours in some cases, to feel its draw. Many that have fell into its grasp cannot free themselves, their very livelihood depends on it. For others, the majority it seems, it is simply a useless tool or senseless toy to occupy the minds of those who have access to it. To them it's as useful as a canoe is to a desert goat herder.
  • Perspective (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @10:08AM (#23948553)

    It is just you. There are literally billions of people who have not heard of WoW, a MacBook, or your parents' basement. There IS a whole world out there, you know, in that room outside the server room, where the sky is sometimes blue and sometimes black with little white led lights, where the HVAC is on the blink half the time. You know that big room?

  • China, Russia, India and Brazil... is it a coincidence that those are the four main countries whose traffic I drop from my servers ? 99.44% of the traffic is spam, and the remainder is irrelevant to my business. If they love my snarky comments so much, they can use a proxy or VPN (yeah, right!)

    Is Jupiter Research basically saying I need to unblock those folks ? Or are they really suggesting we'll have even more botnet slaves online by 2012 ?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "99.44% of the traffic is spam, and the remainder is irrelevant to my business."

      then why do you even have an email address?

    • []

      Let's just say that the US emits more spam total, and you don't know enough Indians to bring up the signal:noise ratio. If you're working somewhere like a university, you just cannot block email by country.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        I'm not sure I'd trust Spamhaus's spam statistics. They tend to be pretty hardcore about what they consider spam. They blocked Youtube, for example, simply because someone send out spam that advertised a video on Youtube.

  • Only 1.8 billion? (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @10:43AM (#23949091) Homepage Journal

    1.8 billion people online is fantastic. Sure we want more, but let's not forget that a whole lot of people!

    1.8 billion people communicating outside there immediate sphere of influence. The lower the bar to knowledge, the better the global society will be.

    • by morari ( 1080535 )
      We want more? Who is we? The internet had gotten a lot worse in many ways as it has become more and more popular.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        "We" is anyone who wants fewer wars, less poverty, and people to ahve a chance at improving their lives.

        Yeah, there is some crap that comes along with it, but that's true of many great things.
        I believe in freedom of speech, even if that does mean horrible things like the "Wheel of time" series will be created.

        It is a lot harder to get the people to rise up and be in your army if they related to people in other countries. Overall, the information provided to these people will help improve things.

        • by sloth jr ( 88200 )

          So wait a minute - the US "invented" the internet. That doesn't seem to have reduced our propensity for war-mongering.

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            The Internet also allows you to operate places that concentrate a certain mindset and excludes others. It's easier to bring people together, certainly, but it's also just as easy to set up a completely polarized environment there.

    • The Internet was first opened to commercial access in 1988. 2012 is 24 years later. Did 25% of the world's population have telephone access by 1900? What about telegraph or commercial semaphore access in the 24 years after they were first commercially deployed? What about other forms of communication, such as automobiles? I'd say the Internet is doing pretty well in comparison.
  • I predict... (Score:4, Informative)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @10:47AM (#23949141)

    that in 2008 only 50% of the planet will have a telephone. []

  • These numbers are simply unacceptable. With all these free services such as Gmail, Twitter, and NetZero, the failure of all these people to go get their free Internets can only be attributed to laziness.
  • Considering the percentage that don't have access to clean drinking water..? Yeah, it's just you.

  • > is it just me or does that seem incredibly small?

    Possibly; you do seem incredibly small...

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