Cellular subscriptions reach six billion worldwidePublish date: 15 October 2012 by Hanleigh Daniels
The latest figures from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), a United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, show that information and communication technology (ICT) uptake continues to grow around the globe, spurred on by a steady fall in the price of mobile- and broadband internet services.
These new stats forms part of the ITU’s flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2012 (MIS 2012), and it ranks the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. South Africa is ranked at 97th place.
Eight of the Top 10 ranked countries are European, with the remaining two forming part of the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan ranked 8th. The ITU stated that the Top 5 countries have not changed their rank between 2010 and 2011, whilst the sole new entrant in the Top 10 is the UK, which made its way from 14th place last year to 9th place currently.
Developing countries now account for most of the mobile growth
The ITU’s MIS 2012 report also identifies countries which have made the most progress when it comes to ICT development. These dynamic ICT markets are mostly located in the developing world, which shows that many developing countries are catching up quickly in their efforts to bridge the so-called ‘digital divide’. Strong performers include Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda as well as Saudi Arabia.
In the mobile sector, developing countries now account for the lion’s share of market growth. Mobile-cellular subscriptions registered continuous double-digit growth in developing country markets, for a global total of six billion mobile subscriptions by end 2011. Both China and India each account for a staggering one billion subscriptions.
Mobile broadband continues to be the ICT service displaying the sharpest growth rates. Over the past year, growth in mobile-broadband services continued at 40% worldwide and 78% when only looking at developing countries. According to the ITU, there are now twice as many mobile-broadband subscriptions as fixed-broadband subscriptions globally.
The ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores. All countries in the IDI Top 30 are high-income countries, and the ITU asserted that this highlights the strong link between income and ICT progress as well as development.
“ITU’s Measuring the Information Society report is the most comprehensive statistical and analytical report on the shape of ICT markets worldwide. Our reputation as a wholly impartial and reliable source of ICT market statistics makes this report the annual industry benchmark for technology development,” said ITU secretary-general Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.