Mobile Broadband Subs Approaching Two Billion Worldwide

According to figures released yesterday by the International Telecommunications Union, mobile broadband accessed by tablets and smartphones is the fastest growing segment of the global information and communication technologies market. ITU’s “Measuring the Information Society” report found declining prices for mobile and fixed broadband services in addition to “unprecedented adoption of 3G,” with the number of worldwide mobile broadband subscriptions approaching two billion.

“The report found there continues to be a economic divide, with broadband uptake, fixed and mobile continuing to be limited in developing countries,” reports Broadcasting & Cable. “Some 4.4 billion people worldwide are not yet online, the report says, concluding that more action must be taken to improve accessibility and affordability.”

“The ITU’s information and communications technology (ICT) development index shows that the U.S. has dropped from 16 to 17 in the country ranking of various measures of development, with Korea and Sweden continuing in the top two spots and Iceland moving up from fourth to third,” notes the article.

According to ITU, two-thirds of the top nations are in Europe, where “shared regulatory framework and a clear set of priority areas, goals and targets have helped countries evolve into advanced information economies.”

Other key findings from the ITU report:

  • Over 250 million people came online over the last year, and almost 40 percent of the world’s population will be using the Internet by end 2013.
  • While both fixed and mobile broadband speeds continue to increase, the price of services is falling and ICTs are becoming more affordable: in the space of four years, fixed broadband prices have dropped by an impressive 82 percent.
  • For the first time, a model has been developed to estimate the number of digital natives – the young people with solid ICT experience who are drivers of the information society. While 30 percent of the youth population are digital natives today, the report shows that within the next five years, the digital native population in the developing world is expected to double.
  • The TV industry has undergone an important shift during the past few years and, in 2012, the number of households with digital TV overtook the number of households with analog TV. This achievement reinforces the dual role of TV broadcasts: fulfilling some of the public services associated with communications and being a major market for private content creators, distributors and networks.

Click here to watch a webcast of the report’s launch from ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.