GLOBAL: China is by far the largest internet market in the world with 721m users, but India has now overtaken the US to become the world's second largest market with 333m, according to a new report from the United Nations.
India also recently overtook the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world, with an estimated 260m mobile broadband subscriptions, said the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
The UN report, entitled "The State of Broadband 2016", also confirmed that the top ten countries for household internet penetration are all located in Asia or the Middle East.
South Korea continues to have the world's highest household internet penetration, at 98.8%, followed by Qatar (96%) and the United Arab Emirates (95%).
Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for nearly half (48%) of all active mobile broadband subscriptions with Singapore (142 subscriptions per 100 people) second only to Finland (144) in the world.
However, European countries lead the world in terms of the highest percentage of individuals using the internet and also the extent of fixed broadband penetration.
Iceland (98.2%) continues to have the highest percentage of individuals who use the internet, closely followed by Luxembourg (97.3%), while six out of the top seven nations where fixed broadband penetration exceeds 40% are all European, with South Korea the only non-European country among them.
In total, the report revealed that there are now 91 countries where over 50% of the population is online. The top ten for internet use in 2014 were all located in Europe, but now Bahrain (#7) and Japan (#9) have joined the top group.
The report went on to forecast that India and Indonesia will drive the future growth of internet penetration, but it found that an estimated 3.9bn people around the world are still not using the internet.
Just six nations – China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria – account for 55% of the total global population that is still offline and the UN put this down to the sheer size of their populations.
"These findings suggest that targeted efforts in just a few key markets could help enormously in redressing the gaping 'digital divide' between those who are online and those still offline," the report said.
While India may have overtaken the US in terms of internet population, the value of its online ad market is still 20 times smaller, according to Warc's Global Ad Trends.
Data sourced from United Nations; additional content by Warc staff