Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 17.8.1: Proportion of individuals using the internet 

Target 17.8: Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Definition and Rationale


This indicator is defined as the percentage of people who have used the internet from any location in the last three months, using any internet-capable device 


Internet access refers to the utilization of the world wide web, e-mail, news, entertainment and data files, and other services using the worldwide public computer network using any device (not just a computer), via a fixed or mobile-cellular network. 

Rationale and Interpretation:

The proportion of individuals using the internet is an established indicator that is considered a key metric for international comparisons of ICT developments. It is a direct measure of the level of enhancement to the use of development enabling information and communication technologies. 

Data Sources and Collection Method

The data for this internet is collected through nationally representative household surveys that are conducted by the national statistical offices or the ministries of ICT of countries.

There are various types of household surveys that can be used to collect data on individuals using the Internet.  Two main types can be distinguished: stand-alone surveys focused on ICT, and other household surveys that may contain some questions on ICT topics.

  1. Stand-alone household surveys dealing with ICT access and use allow for more details to be collected than is usually possible in an existing survey vehicle designed for investigating other topics. An ICT household survey can have a customized sample design, while the information gathered through other surveys will depend on the design of those surveys. The advantages and disadvantages of specific ICT surveys compared to the inclusion of ICT questions in existing survey vehicles are discussed below.
  2. Surveys not specific to ICT include, such as:
  • Multipurpose household surveys that collect data on more than one subject via a single household survey. Such as the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS). Other than the LSMS, particular surveys that are sometimes used for collecting ICT household data in developing economies include Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) funded by UNICEF, and other multi-topic surveys carried out by national statistical offices.
  • Household budget surveys. Household expenditure (budget) surveys are designed to measure household expenditure and are also used by a number of countries to identify household access to ICT equipment and services.  Some countries include questions on household income in their household expenditure surveys.

Population censuses. Population censuses can be used to collect a small number of ICT access and/or use data items. Although this is usually an expensive option and population censuses are infrequent (usually once in a decade), it remains a good alternative in countries that have never collected any ICT household data and are not planning to do so in the near future. In addition, population censuses provide very good detail about the variables collected and can provide a basis for the design of samples for future ICT-specific surveys.

The international Telecommunication Union (ITU) gathers this data from national focal points in countries, and also estimates values for countries that have not conducted surveys, employing methods such as time-series forecasts, hot-deck imputation and regression models, by utilizing socio-economic indicators like the number of internet subscriptions, Gross National Income per capita etc. 

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

The percentage of people who have accessed the internet from any location in the last three mon ths (Pinternet) can be calculated as: 

Comments and limitations:

This indicator is currently estimated for countries that do not yet collect this data through household surveys. ITU encourages all countries to collect data on this indicator through official surveys. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

This indicator can be disaggregated by geographic location (rural/urban), sex, age group, educational level, labour force status and occupation. 


Official SDG Metadata URL  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL  

Other references
ITU. Manual for Measuring ICT Access and Use by Households and Individuals. Available at: 

Country examples

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit

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