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Internet users now at 4.2 billion; 6 countries average 100 Mbps on broadband speed — report

The strong surge of new mobile devices matches the exponential growth of internet users, according to the data in Hootsuite and We Are Social on “The State of the Internet in Q4 2018.”

According to the report, millions of people from Africa and South Asia, who came online for the first time in the past three months, are the key drivers to this growth. These new users first went online using mobile devices.

The 68 million people who came online for the first time between July and September of 2018 contributed to the more than 1.5 percent growth in three months, which almost complements last year’s pace of growth with 284 million new users who came online since September 2017, equating to year-on-year growth of roughly 7 percent.

Based on the data from GSMA, more than two-thirds or 5.1 billion of the world’s population now have mobile phones with 60 percent of the number owning smartphones.

The report also attributes the increase in the number of social media users to mobile devices. In a span of one year — September 2017-October 2018 — 320 million new users signed up for a social media account, again using a mobile device. Almost a million people started using mobile social for the first time every day over the past year. Around 3.4 billion people around the world used social media in September 2018, up 10 percent versus September 2017.

App developers also emerged as winners based on the report “with global users spending $20 billion on apps in the past three months — that’s equivalent to more than $150,000 every minute between July and September.”

Web traffic

While mobile is responsible for half of all global web traffic, the report says that laptops and desktops have contributed 2 percent of traffic over the past year. There have been declines in web traffic from “other devices,” including tablets, but this is not an indication of “reduced use of devices” but more on “due to an increase in the total volume of traffic from mobile phones and laptops.”

The report narrowed down the “potential reasons for this imbalance between stated device preferences and actual web traffic.”

As work-from-home setup is gaining acceptance and the gig economy showing growth, many people have been accessing the internet from their computers, which the report said account for “a sizeable share of overall web traffic.” However, another set of people prefers to use mobile devices for “‘quick-fix’ needs such as checking the weather or performing simple web searches. While these activities account for a meaningful share of online session frequency, they don’t require people to browse through numerous different pages to achieve their desired outcome, so this frequency doesn’t necessarily translate into an equal share of total web traffic.”

internet speed

Connection speed

Mobile connection speed recorded a “slight dip” over the past three months. The report points to the differences between fixed broadband and mobile speeds. “The average global mobile connection speed decreased slightly over the past three months, while average fixed speeds are up by more than 3 percent since July.”

Based on Ookla’s fixed broadband connection ratings, Singapore emerges on top with an average of 189 Mbps. Six countries around the world now offer an average of more than 100 Mbps internet connection speed.

On mobile, Norway is slightly ahead of Qatar with 63.13 Mbps, with the second-placer registering 63 Mbps. Singapore is on the fifth place with 53.18.

Data privacy

The year 2018 has been marred with memorable high-profile data breaches affecting some of the world’s most valuable technology companies including Facebook and Google. This contributed to the 42 percent of internet users who are now concerned about how their data are being used or misused.

The report, however, noted that cultures may play a role in how people see online privacy. There are “no clear trends” or data to support these differences on perspectives in terms of data privacy.

Amid the data breaches that involved Facebook, the social network posted a growth of new 38 million new users in the three months to June, “representing 1.7 percent growth quarter-on-quarter. That growth might not have been everything that investors were hoping for, but Facebook still accounts for roughly two in every three of the world’s social media users.”

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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