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More than three billion people worldwide are now active broadband internet users, it has been reported.

Research conducted by We Are Social indicates that 3.010 billion people, or 42 per cent of the global population, are now online.

Based upon current broadband adoption trends, this figure is expected to reach 50 per cent by mid-to-late 2016.

The firm claimed that 2.078 billion people have social media accounts and 3.649 billion have a mobile device.

According to We Are Social, another 525 million people started using the internet in the year to January 2015, as broadband became more widely available in the developing world.

This represents year-on-year growth of 21 per cent in active users. In January 2014, just 35 per cent of the global population was online.

We Are Social revealed the extent of disparities between the 'rich north' and 'poor south'.

In North America, 88 per cent of people are now online, while in Western Europe the figure is 81 per cent.

By contrast, just 26 per cent of people living in Africa are online and only 19 per cent of those living in South Asia, which includes the Indian subcontinent.

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