Research released by the ITU last week showed that Internet adoption around the world is being driven by younger people, and that mobile networks have overtaken fixed-line networks as the primary access route to the Internet.
The report, "ICT Facts and Figures 2017," showed that 830 million people in the 104 countries tracked were online today, or about 80% of the youth population in those countries. This is particularly significant in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) where up to 35% of individuals using the Internet are between the ages of 15 and 24. This figure falls to about one in four globally and to 13% within developed countries.
Mobile broadband is growing rapidly, with subscriptions rising more than 20% annually over the past five years. The ITU forecasts there will be 4.3 billion global mobile broadband subscribers by the end of this year, with mobile broadband more affordable than fixed-line in most developing countries. Meanwhile, fixed-line subscriptions grew by 330 million over the past five years, at about 9% per year.
The data confirms conventional wisdom on this topic -- providers offering OTT services in developing markets, such as Kwese, iflix and Viu, must target younger viewers, since they are the most likely to be online. And they have to follow a mobile-first approach, since fixed-line penetration is going to substantially lag mobile. It also implies an opportunity for mobile providers to take a leading role in the media ecosystem in developing economies since they will control access -- and in many cases, the device as well.
Other highlights from the report included:
The ITU is a United Nations agency composed of its 193 member states and almost 800 private sector entities and academic institutions. Its goal is to drive innovation in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by coordinating use of radio spectrum and satellite orbits, establishing standards for communications systems and helping to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation