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Home : ITU-D : ICT Data and Statistics (IDS)
   

As the UN specialized agency for telecommunications, ITU collects the most comprehensive range of statistics on Information and Communication Technology penetration, accessibility and use. The following section provides you with some insightful and up-to-date facts about ICTs around the world. These data are drawn from the ICT World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database and, unless otherwise indicated, refer to year end 2006.

 

Global ICT developments

Global ICT Developments:

  • Especially developments in the mobile sector have been able to change the ICT landscape. By the end of 2007, almost one out of two people had a mobile phone. In Europe, penetration has surpassed the 100% mark. More than one out of 4 African and one out of 3 Asian have a mobile phone. A high level of competition and a decrease in prices have been able to reduce the digital divide in mobile telephone, substantially.
  • Especially in Africa, where mobile is clearly dominating, fixed telephone lines remain the exception and penetration is at 3 per 100 inhabitants, by far the lowest in the world. The limited availability of fixed lines has also been a barrier to the uptake of fixed broadband and it is most likely that Africa’s broadband market will be dominated by mobile broadband. ITU started collecting data on mobile broadband subscribers in 2005 and data show that while uptake is on the rise, the rollout of mobile broadband services is concentrated in the developed world. Falling prices and the increasing licensing and availability of 3G is expected to change this over the coming years.
  • The digital divide remains a major problem in terms of Internet and especially broadband uptake. While fixed broadband penetration is growing rapidly and has reached around 15 and 10 percent in Europe and the Americas, it stands at less than half a percent in Africa. Internet use, in general, remains low in Africa especially, where only 5 percent of the population is online, compared to over 40 percent in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania.

 

Chart 1: ICT levels around the world,
by region, 2007

Hi-res picture

Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT
Indicators Database.

 

Developed versus developing economies: trends over time

As highlighted in Chart 2:

  • The fixed line sector remains the least dynamic sector and while the number of fixed lines have actually been falling in developed countries, the are growing only very slowly in the developing world, where (at 16%) they remain at a low level.
  • Mobile growth remains strongest in the developing world. By end 2007, 45 out of 100 inhabitants in the developing world have a mobile phone.
  • Contrary to what is happening in the mobile sectors, Internet use is not growing as quickly in the developing world as in the developed world. By the end of 2007, less than one out of five people living in the developing world were online, compared to over 60 percent of people in the developed world.
  • ITU data suggest that the number of ‘unconnected’ (by early 2008) is substantial:
    • About half of the world’s population (over three billion) does not have a mobile phone
    • An estimated 5.2 billion people are not using the Internet.
    • By the end of 2007, ITU estimates that about 20 percent of the world's population are not covered by a mobile cellular network and are without basic access to ICTs.

 

Chart 2: ICT developments over time,
developed versus developing countries
Fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants         
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Mobile telephone subscribers
per 100 inhabitants
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Internet users per 100 inhabitants
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Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database.

 

Availability of ICTs in villages

ITU is also helping to measure the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) target “to connect villages with information and communication technologies (ICT) and establish community access points.” ITU estimates that the world is home to about three million villages, of which 92 per cent are in the developing world. As highlighted in Chart 3:

  • The availability of electricity, fixed-telephone service and public Internet facilities in communities/villages by regions across the world varies substantially.
  • Except for Africa, the level of electrification has reached over half the world’s cities, towns and villages, including almost all in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
  • Country averages for communities with a telephone service reaches close to 50 per cent in the Americas and in the Asia-Pacific region, and 60 per cent in Europe and the CIS.
  • In Africa, just over ten per cent of communities have a fixed-telephone service, compared with nearly 30 per cent in the Arab States.
  • Except for Europe and the CIS, country averages for Internet access are very low. In the Americas, around one in six communities has Internet access, compared to one in ten in the Asia-Pacific region. Elsewhere, the country average is below five per cent. Africa stands out with very low levels of access to ICT.
  • For the developing world as a whole, ITU estimates that 30 per cent of communities have fixed-telephone access and eight per cent have Internet access.

 

Chart 3: Availability of ICTs in villages

Hi-res picture

Note: Regional figures are country averages.
Telephone refers to fixed-telephone service.
Data are from the latest national household survey
which is not always compiled on an annual basis.
The dates of the surveys used to compile the
date range from 2000-2006.
Source: ITU/BDT research.

 

 

Regional profiles

In 2006 AFRICA

… accounted for 14% of the world’s population, but for only 5.6% of all fixed and mobile subscribers worldwide.

… had by far the world’s lowest penetration of fixed lines, with a continental average of around 3 main lines per 100 people.

… had over 20 countries which had a national average of fewer than 1 main line serving every 100 people.

… had 221 million total telephone subscribers, 198 million of which were mobile cellular subscribers. The continent has the highest ratio of mobile to total telephone subscribers of any world region, and has been dubbed "the least wired region in the world".

...had its own digital divide. For example, Egypt had 11 times the fixed line penetration of Nigeria. While sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), had an average teledensity of one percent, North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia) had a comparable average of eleven percent. Almost three quarters of the continent’s fixed lines were found in just 6 of the continent’s 55 countries.

… was the region with the highest mobile cellular growth rate. Growth over the past 5 years averaged around 50% year on year. The total number of mobile cellular subscribers continent-wide at end 2006 was 198 million.

…added some 61  million new mobile subscribers– a figure almost equivalent to the total number of telephone subscribers (fixed and mobile) in Africa in 2002.

… had some 22 million Internet users, for an Internet penetration of just 5%. Europe’s Internet penetration is 7 times higher.

Fixed vs
mobile
penetration

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Mobile
growth

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Mobile
penetration
rates

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Internet
penetration
rates

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Fixed
line
penetration

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Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database

 

In 2006, the AMERICAS region

… showed continued growth in the mobile sector, with most countries in South and Central America showing mobile penetration rates of over 50 percent. Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Peru had about 30 percent mobile subscribers. Argentina and Chile, on the other hand, had mobile penetration rates of 80 and 76 percent, respectively.

…had its own North-South divide in terms of Internet users: the United States and Canada had roughly four times the Internet penetration rate of Central America and the Caribbean, where it stood around 15 percent. In South America, about 20 percent of the population used the Internet.

…’s three largest fixed telephone networks – in the US, Canada and Brazil – account for more than 80% of all fixed lines on the two continents.

…showed continued growth in broadband penetration. In South America, Chile (at 6%) has the highest number of broadband subscribers per 100 population, followed by Argentina (4%) and Uruguay (3.1%). At 24%, Canada was leading the Americas region.

…had the highest ratio of broadband subscribers to total Internet subscribers. While in the Americas 81% of all Internet subscribers have a broadband connection, the ratio is much lower in other regions: 74. 4% in Europe, 57.5% in Asia Pacific and only 10% in Africa.

(Broadband)
Internet
access, by region

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Fixed vs
mobile
penetration

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Mobile
penetration
rates

Hi-res picture

Mobile
growth

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Internet
penetration
rates

Hi-res picture

Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database

 

In 2006 in ASIA-PACIFIC

… Internet penetration ranges from below 1% in economies like Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao P.D.R. and Nepal, to above 65% in Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

…mobile penetration ranges from below 1% in economies like Myanmar and Kiribati, to 90% or more in Australia, Taiwan (China), Singapore, Hong Kong (China) and Macao (China).

…During 2006, India was the top country to add an average of 6.3 million new mobile subscribers every month. However China represents almost 43% of the entire Asia-Pacific mobile market in terms of subscriber numbers. The domestic penetration in China still hovers at around 35%. 

…India has overtaken China in terms of mobile growth rates. India has growth rates of 91% per annum since 2001. With just total mobile penetration rates of over 14%, potential for growth is enormous. 

…the Republic of Korea leads the region in broadband penetration, with high-speed lines serving more than 29% of its population.

(Broadband)
Internet
access, by region

Hi-res picture

Fixed vs
mobile
penetration

Hi-res picture

Mobile
penetration
rates

Hi-res picture

Mobile
growth

Hi-res picture

Internet
penetration
rates

Hi-res picture

Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database

 

EUROPE/CIS in 2004

… Europe lead the world in terms of mobile penetration, with over 570 million subscribers and a mobile penetration of over 70%. This compared with 9% mobile penetration in Africa, 42% in the Americas, and 19% in Asia Pacific.

… Europe had more mobile subscribers than fixed phone lines in almost all countries.

….showed strong mobile growth, particularly in Central and Eastern European countries, where 2004 mobile penetration levels rivaled those of the west. A few examples: Bulgaria (60%), Croatia (58%), Czech Republic (105%), Hungary (89%), Poland (60%), Slovak Republic (79%), and Slovenia (87%). While Central and Eastern European mobile penetration levels have been catching up to those in Western Europe, its Internet penetration level still lags behind, at some 20% (compared with almost 50% in Western Europe).

… the region’s fastest growing mobile market, Russia, more than doubled the number of cellular subscribers during 2004, from 36.5 million to 74.4 million. During 2004, Russia overtook Germany, France, Spain and the UK to become the largest mobile market in Europe. Despite Russia’s impressive subscriber numbers, it has its own digital divide, with the vast majority of subscribers located in large urban centres.

…the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have succeeded in leapfrogging to new technologies fast, with Internet and mobile penetration rates already nearing 71% and 95% respectively of the average penetration in Western Europe.

…the Netherlands was ranked third worldwide in terms of broadband penetration, behind the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong (China). The top 20 economies worldwide in terms of broadband penetration now include twelve European economies, five Asian economies, as well as Israel, the USA, and Canada.

Global
fixed lines
comparison

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Global
mobile
comparison

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Global
Internet
comparison

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Mobile
Penetration
Europe & CIS 2003

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Europe & CIS
Digital Divide,
fixed, mobile,
Internet

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Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database

 

 

 

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Updated : 2008-07-15