A Third of the World Is Online, UN Says

2.3 billion people have internet access, largely thanks to smartphones

Internet access may be on its way to becoming a fundamental right in some countries, but it's a luxury in many places. Still, more and more people are able to get online thanks in part to the expansion of cell phones and smartphones in particular.

The International Telecommunications Union, a UN body, the same one that is trying to wrestle control over the internet from the current organizations so that countries like Russia and China can better enforce their policies, estimates that about a third of the world's population has internet access.

The number is on the rise as well, it grew by 11 percent in the last year alone. 2.3 billion people can now go online. That said, there are still huge disparities between continents. Internet access is 20 times more expensive in Africa than it is in Europe.

Again, all those new internet connections are largely due to smartphones and mobile broadband, the agency reported that there were 1.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions in total at the end of 2011.

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