UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Forty percent of the world's population will be online by the end of the year, still leaving 4.4 billion people unconnected, a U.N. report says.
While fixed broadband is still unavailable to many, mobile broadband use is now the fastest growing segment of the global information and communication technology market, the annual report of the International Telecommunication Union said.
By the end of 2013, there will be some 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions, almost as many as there are people on the planet, it said.
The report also included an ICT Development Index, which ranks 157 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills; South Korea topped the list for the third year in a row, followed closely by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
"This year's IDI figures show much reason for optimism, with governments clearly prioritizing ICTs as a major lever of socio-economic growth, resulting in better access and lower prices," ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure said.
But there remain large differences between developed and developing countries, the report said, with so-called Least Connected Countries home to a third of the world's total population.
"Our most pressing challenge is to identify ways to enable those countries which are still struggling to connect their populations to deploy the networks and services that will help lift them out of poverty," Toure said.