Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Global mobile penetration to match world population

There will be 6.8 billion mobile phone users by the end of this year, almost as many as there are people on the planet, according to the latest statistics from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Access to mobile broadband is still much lower, but growing quickly. Almost 50 per cent of the world's people are covered by 3G networks, and almost 30 per cent or 2.1 billion use mobile broadband, it said, adding that the number of users of 3G and 3G+ networks is growing at an average annual rate of 40 per cent. 
The study also looks at the most highly developed information societies, in the ITU's ICT Development index.
It was led in 2013 by South Korea for a third consecutive year, followed closely by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway. The Netherlands, the UK, Luxembourg and Hong Kong also rank in the top 10.  
The report also identifies the most dynamic countries, which have recorded above-average improvements in their ICT Development Index (IDI) rank or value over the past 12 months.
The UAE, Lebanon, Barbados, Seychelles, Belarus, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Zambia, Australia, Bangladesh, Oman and Zimbabwe have most improved, according to the IDI ranking. 
ICT development in many countries has been helped by the fall in the price of bandwidth. An analysis of broadband pricing in more than 160 countries found that in the period 2008-2012 fixed-broadband prices fell by 82 per cent, from 115.1 per cent of average monthly income per capita in 2008 to 22.1 per cent in 2012.
The biggest drop occurred in developing countries, where fixed-broadband prices fell by 30 per cent year-on-year between 2008 and 2011, it said. “The average price per Mbps also decreased significantly, with a global median price of $19.50 per Mbps in 2012 almost a quarter of that charged in 2008.”
The results also showed that in developing countries mobile broadband is now more affordable than fixed broadband, but still much less affordable than in developed countries.
Austria has the world's most affordable mobile broadband, while Sao Tome and Principe, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the least affordable, with service cost equal to or higher than average monthly gross national income per capita.
Other countries that rank well for mobile broadband affordability include Qatar, the UK, Germany, Kuwait and France.
Overall, global internet penetration was estimated at 37 per cent of households in early 2013, compared to 41 per cent with a computer and almost 80 per cent with a TV.
A strong digital divide remains, with almost 80 per cent of the developed world using internet and just 28 per cent in developing countries. It leaves around 1.1 billion households without internet access. 
The ITU research also looked at capital expenditure by telecom operators and found spending peaked in 2008 at $290 billion worldwide. This was followed by two years of decline and then a small upturn in 2011.
However, investment levels still have not returned to the level of 2008, due mainly to the weak economic climate and restricted access to capital markets.

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