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State of Connectivity 2015: Helping the next 4 billion people get online requires a better understanding of the barriers to connectivity

David Abecassis Partner, Consulting
Richard Morgan Principal, Consulting

"The State of Connectivity 2015 report highlights new data from Facebook, as well as analysis of third-party data carried out by Analysys Mason to provide new insights into the barriers to connectivity."

Facebook and


State of Connectivity Report 2015 - facebook and internet.orgIn September 2015, the Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which outlines a plan of action to end poverty, reduce inequalities and protect the environment.

As part of this agenda, Sustainable Development Goal 9c (SDG 9c) recognises the importace of Internet connectivity and the commitment to “strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries (LDCs) by 2020”. This is a challenging target.

At the end of 2015, only about 10% of the 900 million people living in LDCs had access to the Internet, compared to a developed market average of 82%.

Only 43% of individuals worldwide are online, leaving 4.1 billion people unconnected in 2015.1

Progress to increase connectivity has been steady over the past decade, with 200 to 300 million more Internet users each year, but – based on current trends – over 3 billion people will remain unconnected by 2020.

Facebook collaborated with Analysys Mason to publish the State of Connectivity 2015 report published by Facebook as part of its initiative.

The report, launched by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Mobile World Congress in February 2016, discusses new insights into the four key barriers to connectivity:

  • availability – the absence of infrastructure to provide services where people live
  • affordability – high costs of services and personal devices relative to people’s incomes
  • relevance – lack of relevant online content in the languages that people speak
  • readiness – lack of literacy, digital skills, awareness and understanding of the Internet, or cultural acceptance.

These barriers are interconnected and many people – particularly those in developing countries – are affected by all of them.

Addressing the barriers to connectivity will require a solid understanding of their scale and drivers, and this understanding will depend on robust and accurate data.

The State of Connectivity 2015 report highlights new data from Facebook, as well as analysis of third party data to provide new insights into the barriers. 

Some summary statistics are shown below.

The full report is available for free here.


Figure: The report provides insights into the four key barriers to connectivity [Source: State of Connectivity 2015 report]


1 Proportion of individuals who have used the Internet in the past 3 months, ITU Measuring the Information Society Report 2015