The Internet Value Chain

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THE INTERNET VALUE CHAIN

Introduction

The public internet is 25 years old. In that time it has

evolved from ‘surfing the World Wide Web’ to a complex

ecosystem of content and services, hosted on

approximately 80 million servers and delivered through

an intricate network of cables, mobile networks, and

satellites. As almost half of the people on the planet get

online, the endless drive to innovate leads to a continuous

evolution of new uses for the internet—from booking a

room in a stranger's house, to live-broadcasting an event

to the world from your smartphone, to remotely

monitoring a sleeping child. Simultaneously abstract yet

pervasive in our everyday lives, it is unsurprising that

debates about the internet continue to escalate, including

about how much individuals should be able to protect

their personal details, to what extent people should be

able to filter out unwanted content, and how the internet

should be funded.

A combination of availability and affordability of

internet connectivity, content and services, and devices

has led to an increasingly connected world (see figure 1).

By the end of 2015, 3.2 billion people globally—43 per

cent of the world’s population—were estimated to be

online. This is nearly 1.2 billion people more than when

the last internet value chain paper was written in 2010.

In other words, since then an average of 633,000

people have gone online for the first time every day

over the past five years.

Figure 1

Global internet users and penetration rate

4,000

43%

40%

3,500

38%

+48%

35%

3,174

3,000

32%

2,937

Million users

2,500

2,000

1,500

16%

17%

20%

1,365

23%

1,561

25%

1,751

29%

2,019

2,224

2,705

2,494

1,000

500

0

147

70

36

16

4%

2%

1%

0%

1995 1996 1997 1998

13% 1,151

11% 1,024

9%

361 9%

817

719

248

587

6% 513

4%

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Internet users (million)

Penetration rate (%)

Sources: International Telecommunication Union, GSMA; A.T. Kearney analysis

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