We all know that the Internet is a global system of connected computer networks; we also know that there are billions of users present in the world today. But how phenomenal has the growth of this wonderful invention been, and how much more is it likely to grow in the near future?Let us track the growth of the internet since 2000. In that year, there were 361 million internet users. Before you start gasping, how’s this for a thought? That number is not even two thirds the number of Facebook users in 2010! The number of internet users has increased more than five fold in that 10 year period. And now, it is believed that very soon the 2 billion mark will be crossed.
Not only has the internet grown vertically, it has also spread. The top ten countries accounted for 73% of internet users in 2000, but this fell to 60% in ten years time, and continues to fall with every passing year, as more and more countries are getting wired. Today, more countries have a significant presence on the internet.
While in 2000, Asia, North America and Europe had a near equal number of users, today Asia has the largest number of users, by itself. In Africa, the number of users increased from 4.5 million in 2012 to over 100 million in 2010; that’s a 2357% increase! Strife ridden and third world countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan and other African countries, have seen an increase of more than 20,000% in ten years. The figures are indeed staggering.
And it is showing no signs of slowing down. One look at the figures given above will give you an idea of how much the internet will grow to be in the next 5 or 10 years. Unless of course, it’s difficult to picture so many zeros!
Cisco, the telecom giant in its Visual Networking Index released in June, forecasted that by 2015, the internet traffic could total 966 exabytes. In layman terms, that’s a little over 240 billion DVDs worth of data. The report also predicted that there would be over 3 billion internet users by 2015, 15 billion networked devices and unprecedented growth in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Video will emerge as the largest source of traffic.
Some of the reasons for this stupendous growth are:
- More networks spreading throughout the world
- Cheaper connecting devices
- More devices coming online – phones, appliances and so on.
- Increase in connectivity speed (Cisco predicts 28mbps will be a norm by 2015)
- More people choose social networking platforms to keep in touch, socialize and for work purposes
What the transition to Digitalism augurs for humanity in general remains to be seen. Major shifts can be expected in power, culture and other aspects of daily life.