More than half the world’s population now pay to use a mobile phone and nearly a quarter use the internet, as developing countries rapidly adopt new communications technologies.
By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1bn mobile subscriptions, up from 1bn in 2002, according to a report published today by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN.
That represents six-in-ten of the world’s population, with developing countries accounting for about two-thirds of the mobile phones in use, compared with less than half of subscriptions in 2002.
Over the same period, fixed-line subscriptions rose more modestly, from 1bn to 1.27bn, indicating that many people in the developing world are bypassing the older technology altogether.
“There has been a clear shift to mobile cellular telephony,” the ITU said.
Internet use has more than doubled, with 23% of people using the net last year compared to 11% in 2002.
However, only one-in-20 Africans went online in 2007, the last year for which firm figures were available.
Across the world just 5% of people have broadband internet at home, although 20% in the developed world now have a fast connection.
There was still a wider “digital divide” between rich and poor countries in the use of communications technology.
Sweden was the world’s most advanced country in the use of information and communications technology, followed by South Korea and Denmark. China was ranked 73, while India came in at 118.
“Despite significant improvements in the developing world, the gap between the ICT [information and communications technology] haves and have-nots remains,” the report said.
via the guardian