Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Six in 10 people globally are now using cellphones

AP , GENEVA

Six in 10 people around the world now have cellphone subscriptions, signaling that mobiles are the communications technology of choice, particularly in poor countries, a UN report said yesterday.

By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1 billion subscriptions globally, compared with about 1 billion in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said.

Fixed line subscriptions increased at a much slower pace to 1.27 billion from about 1 billion over the same period.

“There has been a clear shift to mobile cellular telephony,” the agency said, noting that developing countries now account for about two-thirds of cellphones in use.

In 2002 less than half of mobile subscriptions globally were in the developing world, it said.

Internet use more than doubled. An estimated 23 percent of people on the planet used the Internet last year, up from 11 percent in 2002.

Poor countries still lag far behind on Internet access, with only one in 20 people in Africa going online in 2007 — the most recent year for which firm figures were available.

Fixed broadband penetration increased to almost 20 percent in rich countries, while globally just over one in 20 had access to fast Internet connections at home.

The Geneva-based agency recorded the sharpest rise in mobile broadband subscriptions. The technology, which allows users to access the Web at high speed with mobile devices, was available to 3 percent of people worldwide, increasing to 14 percent in developed countries.

The 106-page report also ranked countries according to how advanced their use of information and communications technology, or ICT, is. Sweden came first, followed by South Korea and Denmark.

Small, densely populated countries such as Luxembourg (7) and Hong Kong (11) also did well, while large developing countries like China (73) and India (118) were hampered by the size of their populations.

The US was 17th out of 154.

The so-called “digital divide” between rich and poor countries remained unchanged between 2002 and 2007.

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