ITU: Mobile phones to match world’s population next year

March 1, 2013

The International Telecommunication Union has released a report that shows mobile subscriber numbers are set to top seven billion in 2014. Overall, the number of mobile telephones worldwide is set to catch up to the globe’s population next year. ITU said more than half of all mobile subscriptions are now in Asia, which remains the powerhouse of market growth. By the end of this year, overall mobile penetration rates will have reached 96 percent globally, 128 percent in the developed world, and 89 percent in developing countries. The report notes that near-ubiquitous mobile penetration makes mobile cellular the ideal platform for service delivery in developing countries.

ITU also forecast that 2.7 billion people or equivalent to 39 percent of the world’s population would be using the Internet by the end of this year. Europe will remain the world’s most connected region, with 75 percent Internet penetration, far outpacing the Asia-Pacific region at 32 percent, and Africa with 16 percent. Household Internet penetration often considered the most important measure of Internet access continues to rise. By end of this year, ITU estimates that 41 percent of the world’s households will be connected to the Internet. Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 27 percent. However, despite a positive general trend, 90 percent of the 1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the developing world.

ITU also highlighted disparities in the field of broadband Internet. ITU said the best performers in terms of access speeds were South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, alongside some surprises in Europe, including Bulgaria, Iceland and Portugal. The cost of fixed-broadband services has dropped precipitously over the past five years, declining by 82 percent if measured as a share of gross national income per capita. In developing countries, however, such services remain relatively expensive, with residential fixed-broadband accounting for just over 30 percent of average monthly gross national income per capita. According to ITU, the broadband is most affordable in Europe, where a basic subscription costs on average less than two percent of gross national income per capita.

Contador Harrison