The goal of Internet.org — the initiative launched in August 2013 by Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — is to connect the 4.4 billion people who currently lack access to the Internet, but a mission on such a large scale is not without barriers, and a study released Wednesday by McKinsey & Co., “Offline and Falling Behind: Barriers to Internet Adoption” (embedded below), examines those barriers.
The study broke the barriers into four categories — incentives, low incomes and affordability, user capability and infrastructure — and found that:
- 3.4 billion of the 4.4 billion people without Internet access are located in 20 countries.
- 1.1 billion to 2.8 billion of them are outside the range of existing mobile networks.
- 920 million of them are illiterate.
- Women in developing countries are 25 percent less likely to be connected than men.
The report is embedded below, and seven key findings follow:
- Over the past decade, the global online population grew to just over 2.7 billion people, driven by five trends: the expansion of mobile network coverage and increasing mobile Internet adoption, urbanization, shrinking device and data-plan prices, a growing middle class and the increasing utility of the Internet.
- The online population is expected to grow by another 500 million to 900 million by 2017, meaning that 4.2 billion people will still be offline.
- Some 75 percent of the offline population is concentrated in 20 countries, and those people are disproportionately rural, low-income, elderly, illiterate and female.
- The offline population faces barriers to Internet adoption spanning four categories: incentives, low incomes and affordability, user capability and infrastructure.
- McKinsey & Co. found a systematically positive and, in some cases, large correlation between barrier categories and Internet penetration rates.
- Some 2 billion of the offline population of 4.4 billion live in 10 countries that face challenges across all four barrier categories, and 1.1 billion are in countries dominated by a single barrier category (more details below).
- Current initiatives, forthcoming innovations and lessons from countries that have made headway are cause for optimism.
McKinsey & Co. also broke down where countries fell in terms of barriers to connecting everyone to the Internet: