2 Billion People Expected Online by End of 2010

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This is the VOA Special English Technology Report, formerly called the Development Report.
Before we changed the name, we went on our Facebook page and asked for story ideas. Some of you suggested that we talk about ICT, information and communication technology.

Well, the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency, released its latest ICT Facts and Figures report last week.

Since two thousand five, the number of Internet users worldwide has doubled to more than one and a half billion people. At least two billion are expected to be online by the end of this year.

The ITU says more than seventy percent of new Internet users this year will be in developing countries. Still, only twenty-one percent of the population of the developing world is online -- compared to seventy-one percent in developed countries. 
Susan Teltscher is head of the agency's Market Information and Statistics Division in Switzerland.

SUSAN TELTSCHER: "There are still very huge divides when it comes to accessing the Internet, especially high-speed Internet. In developing countries, you have only one out of five people using the Internet. If we look at certain regions like in Africa, for example, the figures are even lower. In Africa we have not even ten percent of the population using the internet."

Less than sixteen percent of homes in developing countries are wired for the Internet. But, on the other hand, Ms. Teltscher says mobile phone usage has reached sixty-eight percent in developing countries.

The world has almost seven billion people. Nine out of ten now have access to mobile networks.

The ITU estimates that mobile subscriptions will reach five billion three hundred million this year. The majority are in the developing world. And Susan Teltscher says more and more people in developing countries are using their mobile phones to connect to the Internet.

SUSAN TELTSCHER: "Because it's so difficult to put in place the cable infrastructure and the fiber infrastructure, the mobile networks really offer a great opportunity for them to connect to the Internet over the wireless networks."

Ms. Teltscher says mobile technology is already improving lives in developing countries. She points to examples like banking by phone, e-health services and farm reports by text messaging. And the possibilities will only grow as broadband, or high-speed, connections become more widely available.

ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Toure calls broadband "the next truly transformational technology." He also calls it the most powerful tool available in the race to meet the Millennium Development Goals by twenty fifteen.

And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. Join us online at voaspecialenglish.com or on Facebook or Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

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