Number of Internet users worldwide reaches two billion: UN

The number of Internet users worldwide has reached the two billion mark, the head of the UN's telecommunications agency, Hamadoun Toure, said on Wednesday.

The number of mobile phone subscriptions also reached the symbolic threshold of five billion, the secretary general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) told journalists.

"At the beginning of the year 2000 there only 500 million mobile subscriptions globally and 250 million Internet users," he said.

"By the beginning of this year 2011 those numbers have mushroomed to over five billion mobile users and two billion subscribers to the Internet," Toure added.

An ITU statistician told AFP that the figure for mobile telephones related to subscriptions.

Fresh data posted online by the agency showed that the estimated number of Internet users had reached 2.08 billion by the end of 2010, compared to 1.86 billion a year earlier.

The estimated number of cellphone subscriptions worldwide reached 5.28 billion at the end of the last year, compared to 4.66 billion at the end of 2009, according to the data.

With the world's population exceeding 6.8 billion, nearly one person in three surfs online.

Fifty-seven percent of the users are in developing countries, three years after the ITU reported that Internet use there overtook developed nations.

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