Just the thought that nearly 60% of the global population is internet users is mindboggling. That’s a whopping 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide. But a closer look presents a somewhat skewed picture. When it comes to internet penetration rates, the usage schema offers a diverse spectrum.
The Surge of Internet Penetration
At the top end is Northern Europe with 96% penetration and at the other end is North Korea, with no internet usage at all by commoners. The Asian giants, China and India, have a penetration rate on average somewhere in between. China has more than 854 million online users in terms of numbers, and India has approximately 560 million, while Europe has almost 728 million internet users. India and China may boast of high numbers, but both have vast swathes of their citizenry with no access to the internet.
The Definitive Broadband Demand
Given these vistas of data and communication, the information highway is, for the most part, paved with Broadband. But there are other technologies like LTE, Wi-Fi, 4/5G that meet the need, but none is more of a workhorse than Broadband. The importance of Broadband was most felt during the pandemic when quality internet access for work and educational purposes was a challenge in the remote and rural areas. So, there is a definite need for investing in Broadband to meet any future lockdown-like demand.
Based on data emerging from OpenVault, Broadband usage increased by 40% during the past year, which is a record in over a decade. That stat should be evident because almost all of us were cooped up at home using our devices working, learning, or streaming video. A spike like this due to a pandemic may appear to be a flash in the pan. But a combination of things could actually be working towards ensuring the continued growth of internet usage. See how a futuristic world is unfolding right before our eyes.
The Complementarity of Smart Tech
The phenomenon of IoT (Internet of Things) and the concept of connected devices is becoming commonplace. Both private and government agencies are taking measures to increase broadband penetration to bring in more internet users. These, along with technology-driven higher broadband access rates and broadband guzzling applications (Mining Crypto-currency, gaming, etc.), will fuel growth in internet growth.
While there are other competing technologies like DSL, Cable, Mobile 4G/5G, Fiber, and Satellite Internet, vying for a piece of the internet cake, in all likelihood, its Broadband that will corner a bigger chunk of the pie. Sharing the optimism is Comcast Chief Financial Officer Mike Cavanagh, who said that “The demand for Broadband will continue. We are just starting a total revolution of using technology, which is scalable and sustainable in the post era of the COVID.”
During the pandemic, high-speed internet access did become crucial for education and work, opening up a huge business opportunity. Even governments realizing that the pandemic exposed a digital divide of uneven access are taking corrective measures by increasing investments in infrastructure and encouraging CAPEX in this sector. Rural Broadband has emerged as the focus of innovations to bridge this divide.
A few pointers to where we are headed in the post-Covid world:
- Public investment in high-speed Internet connectivity to help kickstart the economy.
- Experts predict Broadband and digital technologies will help local economies when the pandemic is behind us.
- Others will adapt valuable lessons learned from state actors that addressed rural broadband gaps successfully.
- Innovations in the broadband sector will bring us closer to 10G speeds as connectivity plays a very critical role in our everyday lives.
- Network operators to maximize ARPU and to ensure that subscribers who consume the most bandwidth are in faster, higher ARPU speed tiers
- Cable broadband providers are making changes to accelerate the pace of innovation and network optimization.