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Mobile use up worldwide, but 1 billion still don't have cellphones

October 11, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Thai women use a mobile phone at a shopping mall in Bangkok.
Thai women use a mobile phone at a shopping mall in Bangkok. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul…)

It may feel like everyone on the planet has a cellphone, but they don't.

A new report from the International Telecommunications Union found that at the end of 2011, 6 billion people had a cellphone subscription. That means 6 in 7 of us have a cellphone. It also means that 1 billion of us do not. 

And when it comes to Internet access, the numbers are worse. According to the report, 2.3 billion have access to the Internet. That's less than half of the world's population.

The good news (or bad news, depending on your feelings toward global connectivity) is that the number of people with mobile phone subscriptions is growing rapidly. The ITU found double-digit growth in cellphone subscriptions in developing countries over the last year. 

Mobile Internet services are growing at an even crazier rate. The report found that mobile broadband services grew 40% globally and 78% in developing countries.

There are now double the number of mobile broadband subscriptions as there are fixed broadband subscriptions worldwide.

So, why the major growth? Accessibility thanks to the growth of mobile broadband and affordability, said Susan Teltscher, head of ITU's ICT Data and Statistics Division in a press video.

"We have been monitoring ICT [information and communication technology] prices now for four years, and there has been a 30% drop in the price of ICT in the past four years," she said.

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