THE INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNION (ITU) has predicted that there will be as many as 25 billion devices online by 2020.
The ITU, an arm of the United Nations (UN) responsible for promoting and developing deployment of telecoms infrastructures, said the growth of technologies like machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will be the primary driver of this growth.
"By 2020, the number of connected devices may potentially outnumber connected people by six to one, transforming our concept of the internet, and society, forever," it said in its annual State of Broadband report.
The report also predicts that there will be some 10 billion mobile broadband connections as the developing world uses smartphones and tablets as their primary means of internet connection.
Interestingly, the ITU said that while this growth of mobile devices could be the key to closing the digital divide, it could generate new issues of exclusion based on content and capabilities.
"Given the prolific spread of mobile, in the future, the digital divide may no longer describe disparities in access, but instead denote disparities in speed and functionality - or more specifically, what people can do with their mobile devices," it said.
"Indeed, the handset may become relatively less important, as more and more people will use their mobile device as a portal to the content and apps available in the online world."
The findings of the report, which also noted a growing rise in subscriptions to services and access in developing countries, were welcomed by ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré.
"Broadband networks and services are transforming our way of life. The Broadband Commission is committed to ensuring that the benefits of broadband are available to all," he said.
This article was originally published on V3.
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