How the internet is developing across the globe
The internet has been one of the major developments of recent years. What started out as a way for universities to communicate has become a global phenomenon that has transformed the lives of many people. Today, businesses and individuals rely increasingly on the internet and the services that it provides.
In the West, the internet has become a part of everyday life with social media, television and other aspects playing a major role in our lives at work and home. There are obviously differences in how the internet is used in different parts of the world. For example, in parts of Africa that have little telecoms infrastructure, satellites are more important as a means of communication and information. High-speed fiber optic networks are more often found in developed countries. Visit Ehsan Bayat’s tumblr page to read about how he has helped to develop Afghanistan’s communications. Ehsan Bayat owns and operates Afghan Wireless, and the largest mobile phone company in Afghanistan. For people in remote areas of the country and with little infrastructure, mobile phones and wireless are a good way of getting people connected.
The development of the internet is also different in various countries. South Korea has the fastest connection speeds, with a blistering 54.1 Mb/s, but for the best average peak connection speeds you will have to travel to Hong Kong, which boasts speeds of 50 Mb/s. With that speed, you can download an entire film in just a few minutes. Australia in contrast is ranked at 30, with an average speed of 2.8 Mb/s. People in Botswana meanwhile have just 1.61 Mb/s.
People in different countries use the internet in different ways. In Africa, mobile internet technology is very important, as many people have a smartphone. Local traders can use the internet to decide when to take their goods to market so that they get the best price, and it is also useful for disseminating information. In other parts of the world, laptops and tablets are more likely to be used for internet access. In 1995, just 1% of the world’s people had access to the internet, today that figure stands at 40%.
China, with its large population, has the most users, and India, while having a large population, has one of the lowest penetrations, but it does have the highest yearly growth rate. Countries such as the United States, the UK, France, Germany and Canada have the highest penetration, with more than 80% of their populations having access to the internet.
While the internet infrastructure in countries in the developing world is catching up with those in the developed countries, there is also more censorship. Freedom on the net is defined by limits placed on online content, obstacles to internet access and the violation of users’ rights. China, for example, blocks access of its users to Twitter and Facebook. The Great Firewall of China, as it has become known, was introduced in 1998 to block and screen internet content. Some governments see the internet as a potentially dangerous and inflammatory source of information and therefore they aim to control what their users can see and read. In Pakistan, bloggers can be arrested, and it has been suggested that pro-government commentators manipulate online discussions.