(Editor’s note: Now in its fourth year, the 12 Days of Broadband runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 19 highlighting a dozen innovations directly impacted by the expanding reach of high-speed connectivity this year in North Carolina and throughout the country.)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The amount of new Internet users on the planet this year is equivalent to almost the population of the United States.

According to this year’s edition of the “Measuring the Information Society” report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), by the end of 2014, the Internet will be used by 3 billion people around the world. That’s an increase of 300 million people since last year, and it means we’re quickly approaching the point where half of the world’s population will be online.

This report is widely recognized as the repository of the world’s most reliable and impartial global data and analysis on the state of global information and communication technology (ICT) development, and is extensively relied upon by governments, financial institutions and private-sector analysts worldwide.

This data shows that Internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6 percent globally in 2014 (3.3 percent in developed countries, 8.7 percent in the developing world). The number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years (2009-2014), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

Of the 4.3 billion people not yet using the Internet, 90 percent live in developing countries.

“ICTs have the potential to make the world a much better place – in particular for those who are the poorest and the most disenfranchised, including women, youth and those with disabilities,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré. “This important report is a critical part of the global ICT development process. Without measurement we cannot track progress, which is why ITU gathers ICT statistics for 200 economies across over 100 indicators.”

The Leichtman Research Group also released a study in August revealing that the 17 largest cable and telephone providers in the United States now account for more than 85.9 million broadband subscribers nationwide.

According to the report, top cable companies had nearly 50.7 million broadband subscribers and top telephone companies have more than 35.2 million subscribers by the end of the second quarter.

This means, the number of broadband subscribers in the United States now exceeds the number of cable TV subscribers for the first time ever – with about 49,915,000 broadband subscribers reported at the end of the second quarter compared to 49,910,000 cable TV subscribers.

The top broadband providers studied in the report represent about 93 percent of the market share. The top cable broadband providers have a 59 percent share of the market versus the top telcos, the report noted.

“With the addition of more than 30 million broadband subscribers over the past decade, cable providers have clearly expanded well beyond their roots in cable TV service,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG.

LRG is based in Durham and specializes in analysis and research on the entertainment, media and broadband sectors.