There were about 6.6 billion people in the world in 2007 and of that number, 1.15 billion, or 17.5 per cent, were regular Internet users, according to some estimates.
eMarketer has forecast that by 2012 more than 1.7 billion people worldwide (24.5 per cent) will access the Internet at least once a month.
This year will see China overtake the US as the most populous Internet nation in the world and the Asia/Pacific region will top 500 million Internet users.
By 2012, almost 50 per cent of the world's Internet population will live in the Asia/Pacific region. The share of the world's Internet users in Europe and North America will fall, although absolute numbers will continue to rise in both regions, as the share of users in Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region both grow.
The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries lead the world in terms of Internet penetration, and reached something of a saturation point -- around 80 per cent of the population -- in 2007.
Countries such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico are relatively immature Internet markets and will be the primary drivers for worldwide Internet user growth over the next five years.
Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report