Senior ICT Analyst
ICT Data and Statistics Division (IDS)
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Postal Address:Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 730 5028
Fax: +41 22 730 64 49
Ivan Vallejo Vall
Telephone: +41 22 730 6288
This indicator is defined as the number of individuals using the Internet per 100 inhabitants.
The Internet is a world-wide public computer network. It provides access to a number of communication services including the World Wide Web and carries e-mail, news, entertainment and data files, irrespective of the device used (not assumed to be only via a computer - it may also be by mobile-cellular telephone, other wireless devices, games machine, digital TV etc.). Access can be via a fixed or mobile network.
Individuals using the Internet refers to those that used the Internet in the last 12 months from any location. As of 2013, the definition has been updated and the reference period is the last three months instead of 12. While some countries already used the narrower reference period in the past, most countries may still take some time to adhere to the new reference period. Data are based on surveys generally carried out by national statistical offices or estimated based on the number of Internet subscriptions.
This indicator is calculated by dividing the total number of in-scope individuals using the Internet (from any location) in the last 12 months by the total number of in-scope individuals.
While the data on the percentage of individuals using the Internet are very reliable for countries that have carried out official household surveys, they are much less reliable in cases where the number of Internet users is estimated based on the number of Internet subscriptions. The methodology used to estimate the percentage of individuals using the Internet should always be provided.
Discrepancies between global and national figures may arise when countries use a different definition than the one used by ITU. Discrepancies may also arise in cases where the age scope of the surveys differs, or when the country only provides data for a certain age group and not the total population.
Data on individuals using the Internet are collected through an annual questionnaire that ITU sends to national statistical offices (NSO). In this questionnaire ITU collects total estimates. The percentages are calculated a-posteriori.
The survey methodology is verified to ensure that it meets adequate statistical standards. The data are verified to ensure consistency with previous years’ data and situation of the country for other related indicators (ICT and economic).
For most developed and an increasing number of developing countries, percentage of individuals using the Internet data are based on methodologically sound household surveys conducted by national statistical agencies. If the NSO has not collected any Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) data, then ITU estimates the percentage of individuals using the Internet.
Data are usually not adjusted, but discrepancies in the definition, age scope of individuals, reference period or the break in comparability between years are noted in a data note. For this reason, data are not always strictly comparable.
For countries where Internet user data are not available, ITU estimates them by using imputation methods that consider several other indicators such as the number of fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions, active mobile broadband subscriptions, households with Internet and the income of the country.
Some countries conduct a household survey where the question on Internet use is included every year. For others this frequency is every two or three years. In general, the indicator is available for about 80 countries in the last three years.
ITU makes the indicator available for each year by using survey data and estimates for most countries of the world.
Regional and global aggregates of the number of Internet users are calculated as unweighted sums of the country values. Regional and global values for the percentage of individuals using the Internet are averages of the country values weighted by the population of the countries and regions.
Year-end estimates are usually released in June of the following year through the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database. Data are also available at no cost through the ITU’s ICT Eye, see: