New research says that 4 in 10 of the world’s population will be browsing the web by the end of 2014 – another astounding landmark in the socio-economic development of the planet.

The internet will count almost 3 billion browsers by the end of this year, which is around 40 per cent of the world’s total population, according to new research.

The United Nations International Telecommunications Union said that two thirds of this number would hail from the developing world.

Europe revealed the highest rate of internet penetration at 75 per cent, while the Asia-Pacific region, maybe unsurprisingly as it includes China, has the largest population of internet users.

By the end of 2014, approximately one in five of the African population will have access to the internet as compared with nearly two-thirds of the Americas.

[themecolor]2.3 billion mobile broadband connections[/themecolor]

At the same time, mobile data connections are forecast to reach 2.3 billion worldwide subscriptions. Africa has led the expansion, growing from 2 per cent penetration in 2010 to nearly 20 percent this year.

However, fixed-broadband penetration growth is predicted to slow to about 10 per cent by the end of 2014. As with internet subscriptions, the Asia-Pacific region also counts the most fixed-broadband users, whilst Africa has fewest – just 0.5 per cent of its population.

Approximately 7 billion people globally will have a mobile phone by the end of 2014, with 75 per cent of these living in developing countries.

As reported by the Telegraph, Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, referred to these figures as a “watershed moment” in the world’s relationship with ICT.

“Behind these numbers and statistics are real human stories. The stories of people whose lives have improved thanks to ICTs,” he commented. “Our mission is to bring ICTs into the hands of ordinary people, wherever they live. By measuring the information society, we can track progress, or identify gaps, towards achieving socio-economic development for all.”