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2.7bn people to be online this year

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Around 2.7 billion people - 40% of the world's population - will be connected to the internet by the end of 2013, the United Nations said Monday. 

Two Chinese men use their laptop computers at a cafe in Beijing on November 2, 2012

Another 250 million people came online in 2012, but 4.4 billion people remain unconnected, said the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Ninety perc ent of those not online live in developing countries.

The ITU also said there would be 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions - almost as many as there are people on the planet - by the end of the year.

South Korea leads the world in information and communication technology (ICT) development for the third consecutive year, followed closely by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway, the ITU said in its annual report.

The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Hong Kong also rank high, while Britain nudged into the top 10 from 11th position last year, the report said.

The ITU’s annual ICT Development Index ranks 157 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills.

The report also noted that "mobile broadband is now more affordable than fixed broadband".

Related search: Internet, mobile broadband

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