GLOBAL: Close to half (46.8%) of the world's population, or around 3.5bn people, will be users of the internet this year, according to updated estimates from eMarketer.

The New York-based research firm also forecasts that global internet penetration will cross the halfway mark in 2019, when 50.6% of the world's population will access the internet via desktop/PCs or mobile devices.

Its Worldwide Internet and Mobile Users Report expects that much of this growth will be driven by consumer adoption in Asia-Pacific, where India and Indonesia alone will see the number of new internet users growing by 15.2% and 10.6% respectively.

At 5.7%, growth in China will be lower, but the eMarketer report expects many more older consumers to start going online in Chinese cities and towns, which will help to drive up internet penetration in the country to two-thirds of the population by 2021.

Strong growth rates are also expected in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as Africa where, in these regions, many people are expected to go online for the first time via mobile.

Indeed, nearly four-in-five internet users worldwide are forecast to use a mobile device to access the internet this year: up 9.3% since 2016.

Not surprisingly, the growth of internet users is slower in Western Europe, which is expected to see growth of lower than 2% even if it means more than three-quarters (76.5%) of the region's population will be using the internet in 2017. That is a sign that urban areas in Western Europe are reaching saturation point, the report stated.

Turning to global smartphone adoption, eMarketer forecasts growth of 10.8% in 2017 and all markets except North America are expected to record double-digit growth.

Strong growth will continue into next year, so that more than a third of the world's population is expected to be using a smartphone by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, eMarketer estimates that there will be 1.2bn tablet users this year, representing just over 16% of the global population.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by WARC staff