Mobile phone subscriptions reach 7.1 bln worldwide – ITU

Just under half of the world’s population (43.4%), or about 3.2 billion people, are now online, while mobile phone subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion, according to a study by the ITU, which added that over 95 percent of the global population is now covered by a wireless signal.

Looking to 2020, the ITU forecasts that 56 percent of global households will have internet access, exceeding the Connect 2020 target of 55 percent worldwide. That said, only 53 percent of the global population will be online in 2020, below the Connect 2020 target of 60 percent. The Connect 2020 Agenda aims to ensure that at least 50 percent of households in developing countries and 15 percent of households in Least Developed Countries (LCDs) will have access by 2020, but ITU estimates that only 45 percent of households in developing countries and 11 percent of LDC households will have internet access by that date.

By the end of this year, 46 percent of households will have internet access at home, up from 44 percent last year and 30 percent in 2010. In the developed world, 81.3 percent of households have home internet access, compared to 34.1 percent in the developing world, and 6.7 percent in the 48 UN-designated LDCs. Also, while growth in internet use has however slowed to 6.9 percent this year from 7.4 percent the year before, the number of internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past five years (2010-2015), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

The number of mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide jumped to an estimated 3.5 billion this year from 0.8 billion in 2010. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions rose more slowly, to an estimated 0.8 billion. Over 95 percent of the global population is now covered by mobile-wireless services. This means 350 million have no access, down from 450 million a year ago. About 89 percent of the world’s urban population is now covered by a 3G network; in rural areas, the figure drops to 29 percent of the world’s 3.4 billion people living in rural areas.

Mobile-wireless prices continue to fall, down 14 percent of gross national income per capita (GNI) by the end of 2014, against 29 percent in 2008. The greatest decreases over the past year have been in mobile-broadband prices, which have made the service cheaper by an average of 20-30 percent.

By 2015, 111 economies, out of 160 with available data, including all of the world’s developed countries and 67 developing countries, had achieved the Broadband Commission for Digital Development’s target, that the cost of broadband services should be no more than 5 percent of average monthly income. The figure is still over 20 percent for 22 developing countries. Fixed-broadband prices increased between 2013 and 2014, after falling consistently for a number of years. In the LDCs, fixed-broadband services remain unaffordable, and most of the countries ranked at the bottom of the fixed-broadband basket are LDCs. The 2014 average fixed-broadband basket corresponded to 98 percent of GNI in LDCs, up from 70 percent the year before.

Korea topped the ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) for 2015, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The top 30 includes countries from Europe and high-income nations from other regions including Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the US. Almost all countries surveyed improved their IDI ranking. In the LDCs, the IDI grew less compared to other developing countries and LDCs are falling behind in particular. A number of countries recorded above-average improvements over the past five years, including Costa Rica, Bahrain, Lebanon, Ghana, Thailand, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Oman.

In Africa, only Mauritius had an IDI value above the world average. In the Americas, the US, Canada and Barbados lead. In the Arab States region, the top five countries included Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Asia-Pacific was the most diverse region in terms of ICT development, reflecting stark differences in levels of economic development. Six economies in the region, Korea, Hong Kong (China) and Japan, had IDI rankings in the top twenty of the global distribution, as well as 10 of the Index’s least connected countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Among CIS, Belarus ranked highest and Kyrgyzstan lowest. In Europe, all countries, with the exception of Albania, exceeded the global average IDI value.

Source: Telecom Paper