43% of world’s population are not using mobile internet, finds poll

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8th October 2021 04:56 - Telecommunications

43% of world’s population are not using mobile internet: A global survey has found that despite more people now living in regions with mobile broadband network coverage, 3.4 billion people are still not using mobile internet (43%). This makes the 'usage gap' seven times greater than the 'coverage gap', according to the study.

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity, 2021 report also found that 6% of the world's population (equivalent to 450 million people) live in areas without mobile broadband coverage, with Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Islands the area of the world with the greatest coverage gap (19%).

The report highlights trends in the coverage and usage of mobile internet over the past six years and looks at the key barriers to mobile internet adoption using a variety of sources including a consumer survey that polled over 9,000 respondents.

One of the key findings was that by the end of 2020, more than half the world's population were able to use and were using mobile internet. This was a significant increase on the previous year (225 million people).

In low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), mobile internet has grown steadily over the past few years and now accounts for just over three-quarters of people who are connected. However, of those who are still unconnected, 93% are from LMICs.

In LMICs, 4G coverage has increased to 84% found the survey, with those who remain unconnected, typically from poorer, rural areas. The unconnected were also more likely to be women, older or less educated. 

Key barriers to the adoption of mobile internet were found to be 'a' lack of literacy', 'lack of digital skills' and 'affordability'. The research also found that a quarter of adults in LMICs are not aware of the benefits of mobile internet.

By the end of 2020, 5G coverage increased to 17% globally, found the study.

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