The number of mobile phone subscriptions is now over 5.9 billion, reports the International Telecommunications Union in a 2011 year-end report (PDF). The world is home to 7 billion people, one third of which are using the Internet. Mobile phone subscriptions have now penetrated 87 percent of the entire world, says the ITU.
Among all those mobile phone users, mobile broadband subscriptions (including 3G) number almost 1.2 billion, a 45 percent growth each year for the past four years. They now outnumber fixed broadband subscriptions by 2 to 1. At the same time, 70% of the under 25-year olds — a total of 1.9 billion — are not online yet.
Some 159 nations across the world have 3G networks, though 2G coverage is still twice as high as 3G. One-third of the 1.8 billion household around the world now have Internet access, up from one-fifth just five years ago. In developing nations, 25 percent of all homes have a PC and 20 percent have Internet access.
Korea has the fastest broadband access, with almost the whole country enjoying speeds of more than 10 megabits per second. The U.S. is more of a mixed bag with a little more than one-third of the population seeing speeds higher than 10 Mbps and the rest stuck between 2 to 10 Mbps and 256 Kbps to 2 Mbps.
Overall, a full one-third of the 7 billion people on the planet use the Internet, and 45 percent of them are under the age of 25. Internet use has been growing in developing countries, accounting for 62 percent of the world’s total last year, compared with just 44 percent in 2006. China alone represents almost 25 percent of the world’s total.
Juniper Research forecasts a rapid uptake of LTE mobile broadband in the next five years, but a limited global reach. Subscriber levels will attain 428m by 2016 but will only reach 6% of the global subscriber population.
Instat predicts global LTE subscriptions will grow to 290 million by 2015, while the ratio of North American FDD-LTE to TDD-LTE subscribers will be almost 14 to 1. ABI Research predicts at least 500,000 TD-LTE base stations will be deployed by 2016.