Report: More Than 5B People Now Online

John Lister's picture

For the first time, more than five billion people use the Internet. That means the proportion of the world who are online will soon reach two-thirds.

The figures come from Data Reportal, which gathers together information from multiple sources to produce a global estimate. (Source:

Its headline figures include five billion people using the Internet, meaning 63 percent of the world's population. It also says 5.32 billion people have a mobile phone (67 percent of the population), with around 80 percent of those handsets being smartphones. (Source:

The report also estimates 4.65 billion people actively use some form of social media. That's 59 percent of the population, though it represents 75 percent of people aged over 13, officially the minimum age for many social media services.

Those figures do come with a big note of caution however, as the authors say they can't be certain they've eliminated double-counting of people on multiple services or people with multiple accounts on a single service.

Global Disparity

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Internet access varies dramatically between countries. India has the most "offline" people with an estimated 743 million. Of the 10 countries where less than 20 percent of people are offline, nine are in Africa. (The other is North Korea where internet access is almost universally blocked).

Some of the figures in the report are so surprising as to be suspicious. For example, it cites a claim that one in nine working-age Internet users around the world own some form of cryptocurrency, with the US figure being 14 percent.

Time Online Is Hazy

There's also a claim that the average working-age adult with Internet access uses the Internet for six hours and fifty-three minutes each day. The problem is that this is based on a survey and people's understanding of what counts as using the Internet will vary dramatically.

For example, somebody watching a movie on Netflix on their TV is technically using the Internet for two hours more than somebody watching a movie on cable, even though most people would consider them as doing the same activity. The calculations are then even more complicated if one or both of them are scrolling through social media on their phone while watching.

What's Your Opinion?

Do any of these figures surprise you? How long would you say you use the Internet for each day? Is it a problem that the proportion of people online varies so much around the world?

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