Globally, the rise of digital platforms and services has pervaded every area of life. From the way businesses perform their daily functions to the way people meet and communicate with each other, cloud services and other digital platforms have revolutionized life as we know it. But even as you might be reading this on a mobile device in the back of an Uber, there are over a billion people in the world who remain "unconnected."
The majority of those people live in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Today, barely 1 in 3 people in those regions have internet access. Yet with booming tech hubs and innovation centers such as Japan and Singapore nearby, the potential for infrastructure and investment in adjacent, less-connected countries seems to be there.
Let’s take a look at some of the growth and usage statistics in APAC right now.
According to a recent study from The Next Web, though the APAC average of internet users compared to total population per country is just 47%, there is reason to believe those numbers are growing. Internet use in APAC has been growing at an 8% yearly rate, slightly ahead of the global average of 7%. Since September 2016, 140 million new users came online with Indonesia accounting for 45 million of those.
While Indonesia is experiencing substantial growth, others are more stagnant. North Korea is unsurprisingly the most dire case, with only an estimated .1% of its population connected as of September 2017. While Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all boast penetration levels well over 85%, half of the region's countries still come in at less than 50% penetration.
Much of the question of access is down to the availability and affordability of two things: devices and infrastructure. With two-thirds of APAC internet users already using mobile devices to do so, it's clear that widening access to those who are currently unconnected will be largely dependent on companies being able to provide access to affordable mobile devices as well as plans and networks that are affordable for those populations.
Observing the growth of digital in APAC is exciting. At Digital Realty, we will continue to look for opportunities to expand our presence in APAC and help provide the services that will, little by little, “connect the unconnected.” If you would like to learn more about Digital Realty’s activities and ambitions in APAC, read this recent article from Bloomberg. If you would like to learn more about Digital Realty’s properties in APAC, click here.