Digital 2019: Internet Trends in Q3 2019

Our Digital 2019 Q3 Global Digital Statshot report – published in partnership with Hootsuite and We Are Social – shows that digital connectivity continues to grow at an impressive rate around the world. An average of 900,000 people came online for the first time every day over the past 12 months, with developing nations showing particularly strong growth.

You’ll find the complete report in the SlideShare embed below (click here if that’s not working for you), but read on further for a closer look at this quarter’s top internet trends.

Just before we dive into our analysis, it’s important to highlight that we’ve made some major changes to how we source and calculate internet user numbers starting this quarter, so some of the figures in this update will not be directly comparable to data that we published in our previous reports.

Essential internet stats for Q3 2019

Let’s start with the headlines for global digital use in July 2019:

  • 5.117 billion people around the world use a mobile phone today, equating to roughly two-thirds of the world’s total population.

  • There are now 4.333 billion internet users around the world, which translates to a global penetration figure of 56 percent.

  • The number of people using social media has risen to 3.534 billion, meaning that 46 percent of all the people on Earth today already use social media. 

Global Digital Overview July 2019 DataReportal

These numbers make for great trivia, but the trends over time typically offer more valuable insights into what’s really happening:

  • The number of people around the world using a mobile phone increased by 124 million in the past year, equating to annual growth of 2.5 percent.

  • Internet users have grown by more than 8 percent in the past 12 months, with more than 320 million people coming online for the first time since July 2018.

  • Social media users are also up by almost 8 percent, with more than a quarter of a billion people starting to use social platforms since this time last year.

Annual Digital Growth Trends July 2019 DataReportal

The latest growth rates are slightly lower than those we saw in our Digital 2019 Global Overview report back in January, but this drop is consistent with mid-year trends we’ve seen in previous years, and is partly due to the fact that many of the organisations who supply our data only update their metrics once each year.

For clarity, we’ve also recalculated our historical figures using our new data sources and methodologies, so the numbers above may not correlate to the figures we reported in our previous reports.

Internet users on the rise

The number of internet users around the world continues to grow at an impressive rate, with roughly 900,000 people coming online for the first time every day since July 2018. India has been delivering the largest absolute gains, with TRAI reporting quarterly growth of more than 32 million internet subscribers (5 percent), and annual growth of 143 million subscribers (29 percent).

Global Internet Overview July 2019 DataReportal

India’s neighbours have also been reporting promising growth, but Southern Asia is still home to the largest unconnected population in the world, with more than 1 billion people across the region still waiting to come online. Penetration rates are improving rapidly across Southern Asia though, and some countries in the region should see penetration rates approaching 50 percent in 2020.

North Korea continues to block the internet for most of its citizens, so the country remains in last place in our global connectivity rankings. However, an increasing number of people in the reclusive North Asian country appear to be gaining access to the country’s home-grown ‘intranet’, thanks to services like Mirae, and the introduction of a series of new connected devices

Despite intermittent blocking of the internet in some African countries in recent months, many nations across the region have seen steady growth in digital connectivity. However, there’s still a long way to go before internet use becomes widespread across the continent. Less than 10 percent of the people living in South Sudan, Eritrea, and Burundi use the internet today, while a total of 18 African countries still have internet penetration rates below 20 percent. 

Apart from North Korea, Papua New Guinea is the only other non-African nation in the bottom 20, with just 12 percent of the country’s population online today.

Countries with the Lowest Rates of Internet Penetration in July 2019 DataReportal

Mobile web share rebounds

The latest data from Statcounter show that mobile’s share of global web traffic crept back above 50 percent in June 2019. That’s up from the 49 percent share we reported in our 2019 Q2 Statshot report, although mobile’s overall share is down by more than 3 percent since this time last year.

Conversely, the volume of web page requests originating from laptop and desktop computers grew by more than 4 percent year-on-year, accounting for more than 45 percent of global web traffic in June 2019. 

The share of traffic attributable to tablets saw a modest drop over the past year, but this is likely the result of strong growth in smartphone use in the developing world, rather than an actual drop in tablet use.

Statcounter also reports a meaningful increase in the share of web traffic going to other kinds of device, but the firm’s data often show similar fluctuations from month to month, so it’s difficult to draw any clear conclusions from this data.

Share of Global Web Traffic by Device July 2019 DataReportal

Faster access

The world’s internet is getting faster too. Ookla reports that the speed of the average mobile data connection increased by 19 percent over the past 12 months, while the speed of the average fixed internet connection increased by 29 percent in the same period.

Average Global Internet Connection Speeds July 2019 DataReportal

South Korea has jumped to first place in the mobile internet speed rankings, most likely thanks to its accelerating rollout of 5G mobile networks. The speed of the average mobile data connection in the country has more than doubled in the past year, reaching more than 90Mbps by June 2019.

South Korea’s average mobile data connection is now almost 40 percent faster than the average mobile connection in any other country in the world, and is more than three times faster than the global average.

Mobile Internet Connection Speed Country Rankings July 2019 DataReportal

Singapore continues to enjoy the fastest fixed internet connections in the world, with the average user in the Southeast Asian nation now able to connect at speeds close to 200Mbps. Fixed internet connections in 19 countries around the world now average more than 100Mbps, with many of these countries still enjoying double-digit growth in connection speeds over the past year.

However, many countries around the world still struggle with painfully slow internet connections, with Ookla reporting that the average speed of fixed connections remains below 10Mbps in 34 countries.

Fixed Internet Connection Speed Country Rankings July 2019 DataReportal

Internet activities

Hopefully that’s given you a good sense of how internet access trends are evolving around the world, but if you’d like to know more about what people are actually doing online, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ll be publishing a series of in-depth articles over the next few days that explore people’s various online activities, including:

  • Social media use, with in-depth stats for many of the top platforms;

  • Evolving ecommerce behaviours;

  • Digital content trends in July 2019;

  • The increasing popularity of esports;

  • A closer look at people’s digital news habits; and

  • Essential mobile trends.

Click here if you’d like to explore all of those articles, and remember that you can also benchmark all of these stats against historical figures by digging into our huge selection of previous reports.