Developing world hits 98.7 per cent mobile phone adoption

200 million more to come online in 2017 as 30 million ditch the landline

Global ICT developments, 2001-2017
The ITU's key Global ICT developments, 2001-2017

The world has more mobile phone subscriptions than people, according to the International Telecommunications Union's Facts and Figures for 2017.

The annual data dump is billed as an informed estimate about the state of the world's telecommunications services, compiled after ITU uses its authority as the United Nations' ICT agency to prod telecommunication/ICT ministries and regulatory authorities around the world for their numbers.

Among the data in the report that caught The Register's eye:

  • Mobile phone subscriptions are expected to rise from 2016's 7,51 billion to 7,740bn, or more than one subscription for the world's ~7.5bn people;
  • Penetration rates for mobile subs will hit 98.7 per cent in developing nations, up from 2016's 96.3 per cent and suggesting that next year all-but the world's least developed nations will reach more than one sub per person. Even in the least-developed nations, penetration is at 70.4 per cent and rising;
  • Mobile broadband growth remains strong, with growth of 355m expected in 2017;
  • Fixed broadband is growing too, but by just 62m to 979m connections globally;
  • The world is on track to lose 32 million land lines, 24m of them in developing nations.

All of those new mobile subscriptions do not, however, automatically mean people use the internet. The data says that by the end of 2017 the world will have 3,578bn internet users, up from 2016's 3,385bn.

Another interesting point is the number of households with a computer, which the ITU predicts will rise by 1.1 per cent to 53.6 per cent this year. Growth of home PC penetration is has even started slowing in developing nations, too. No wonder PC sales keep slumping. ®

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