The internet: who's in and who's out?

The internet has grown massively since the Eldis site got its own domain in 1999. But not everyone has a slice of the pie. This timeline looks at how internet access has changed since then.

Eldis is an online information service, hosted by the Institute of Development Studies, which provides free access to relevant, up-to-date and diverse research on international development issues.;xNLx;;xNLx;(All statistics in this timeline are from the International Telecommunication Union unless otherwise stated.)

Digital natives?

The internet and technology is often associated with young people. However in 2011, 70% of under 25-year-olds in developing countries – 1.9 billion people – were not yet online.

The digital divide

By 2005 1,024 million people around the world were using the internet, but they were not evenly spread. Only 408 million of these were in countries considered to be developing. When it came to access to broadband connection 220 million people had access but only 71 million of these were in developing countries.

Gender divides

There are more men using the internet than women. In 2013 37% of all women (1.3 billion) were online compared with 41% of all men (1.5 billion men). The gender gap was clearest in developing countries where 16% fewer women than men used the internet, compared with 2% fewer women than men elsewhere.

The visual reality

The “Internet Census of 2012” was created by 'Carna Botnet', it measured the extent internet use and created an interesting visual map.

The mobile revolution

Worldwide mobile broadband subscriptions overtook fixed broadband subscribers in 2008 but the divide remained with 86 million active mobile broadband subscriptions in developing countries and 336 million elsewhere. In developing countries there remained less mobile broadband subscriptions than fixed broadband until 2010.

The rise of fixed broadband

In 2007, fixed (wired) broadband services came to 346 million. This was 219 million in richer countries and 127 million in developing countries. Now developing countries have the fastest growth in these services; in 2013, the number of fixed-broadband subscriptions in developing countries overtook the number in 'developed' countries.

Breaking the bank

In 2009, more than a quarter of the world’s population were using the internet and 1.9 billion people had access to a computer at home but the cost of getting online was still too high for most people in the world.

Taking stock

In the years leading up to 2010 there was a massive growth in internet use and access. Internet users surpassed the two billion mark, of which 1.2 billion were in developing countries.

The internet in Africa

Although Africa got its first dial up link in 1993, it was in 2001 that the first major internet connection was established in the form of a Submarine cable,SAT-3/WASC/SAFE. At this time 1.8% of the population of the continent were internet users. This began to grow rapidly from 2005 after major investment in the Sub-Saharan Africa's ICT sector. (Information from

World Summit on the Information Society

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was a two part summit, organised by the United Nations, the first part of which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2003. Altogether, about 14 000 people participated in the summit or the related events. This was the first UN related conference on the theme of information and communication and aimed to develop a common understanding of the information society and help bridge the digital divide between richer and poorer countries. The second part, in 2005, was held in Tunis.

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