The number of active mobile phones in the world is now more than six billion, according to data from the International Telecommunications Union. The cost of mobile data is shrinking, enabling more people in developing countries get online.
First reported by Ars Technica, the data comes from the ITU’s annual report, which took a broad look at how mobile technology is changing worldwide. In places like Brazil, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya, mobile phone adoption saw double-digit growth in 2011. China and India account for 1 billion mobile phone subscriptions each – that’s huge!
Mobile technology is also helping more people in developing countries get online. The cost of home broadband can be as much as 40% of a household’s monthly income in developing countries, but mobile broadband is cheaper and more accessible, at least for limited data packages. Mobile broadband adoption was at 32% globally and 24% in developing countries in 2011.
The ITU data mirrors that of other reports. A recent study from Gartner predicts that 1 billion smartphones will be sold worldwide in 2014. Canalys report showed that more smartphones were sold in 2011 than PCs; and Cisco had predicted that by the end of 2012, there would be more smartphones on the planet than people (though not all of those phones necessarily have subscriptions).
South Korea ranks as No. 1 in the world as having the “most advanced” economy in terms of information and communication technology. The UK is 5th. Selected rankings are pictured below.
What do you think of the fact that there are now almost as many cellphone subscriptions in the world as people? Share your thoughts in the comments.