INFOGRAPHIC: 40% of world's population to be online by end of year

Ireland is 23rd in global ICT rankings

The latest figures released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have revealed the current state of world broadband. It's expected that by the end of the year 40% of the world's population will have full Internet access, although 1.1 billion households (or 4.4 billion people) will remain unconnected. 50% of the world's population, however, is in range of a 3G network.

South Korea, for the third year in a row, retains the top information and communication technology ranking, followed by Sweden and Iceland. Ireland is 23rd, above countries such as Spain, Italy and Belgium. As is to be expected, central African countries still rank lowest, alongside some Southern Asian countries such as Yemen and Pakistan. United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Barbados are among the countries showing notable growth rates over the last year.

The results generally show a sharp divide between the developed world at nearly 80% connectivity and the developing world at 28%.

Aside from the regional breakdown, the annual report also details the specifics of broadband access around the world. Internet connections are getting faster, with 2 Mbps now the most popular speed. Curiously, the results also indicate that mobile broadband is now more affordable than fixed connections, especially in developing countries, despite fixed broadband prices falling over 82% over the last three years. 5.2 per cent of the total global population are now said to be 'digital natives' (i.e. "networked youth aged 15-24 years with five or more years of online experience").

The ITU infographic below illustrates some of the findings, and you can read more at the group's website.