Archived Newsroom • Press Release
ITU releases latest global technology
Global mobile penetration now over 100% in four of the world’s six
Number of mobile-cellular subscriptions approaching 7 billion
Mobile broadband most dynamic market, with 2.1 billion subscriptions
Geneva, 27 February, 2013 – New figures released today by
ITU confirm strong sustained demand for information and communication technology
(ICT) services, with uptake spurred by a steady fall in the price of broadband
ITU’s The World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures report predicts that there
will soon be as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people inhabiting the
planet, with the figure set to nudge past the seven billion mark early in 2014.
More than half of all mobile subscriptions are now in Asia, which remains the
powerhouse of market growth, and by the end of 2013 overall mobile penetration
rates will have reached 96% globally, 128% in the developed world, and 89% in
With many markets saturated, and penetration at over 100% in four of the six
ITU world regions, mobile-cellular uptake is already slowing substantially, with
growth rates falling to their lowest levels ever in both the developed and
ITU estimates that 2.7 billion people – or 39% of the world’s population –
will be using the Internet by end 2013.
Internet access, however, will remain limited in the developing world, with
only 31% of the population forecast to be online at the end of 2013, compared
with 77% in the developed world. Europe will remain the world’s most connected
region with 75% Internet penetration, largely outpacing Asia and the Pacific
(32%) and Africa (16%).
Household Internet penetration – often considered the most important measure
of Internet access – continues to rise. By end 2013, ITU estimates that 41% of
the world’s households will be connected to the Internet.
Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with
an annual growth rate of 27%. But despite a positive general trend, 90% of the
1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the
Speaking to government Ministers gathered at the Mobile World Congress event
in Barcelona, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré said: “We have made the
most extraordinary progress in the first twelve years of the new millennium…and
yet we still have far to go. Two thirds of the world’s population – some 4.5
billion people – is still offline. This means that two thirds of the world’s
people are still locked out of the world’s biggest and most valuable library.
Two thirds of the world’s people are still refused access to the world’s biggest
market place. And two thirds of the world’s people are still denied the
extraordinary opportunities now available to the other third. Mobile broadband
is clearly going to be a vital part of the solution, and we must continue to
‘mobilize’ to ensure that all the world’s people have affordable, equitable
access to the Internet.”
“Near-ubiquitous mobile penetration makes mobile cellular the ideal platform
for service delivery in developing countries,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of
the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Our new m-Powering Development
initiative is designed to leverage this potential across markets worldwide, and
especially in rural and remote communities.”
The cost of fixed-broadband services has dropped precipitously over the past
five years, declining by 82% if measured as a share of GNI per capita. But in
developing countries, residential fixed-broadband services remain expensive,
accounting for just over 30% of average monthly GNI per capita – compared to
just 1.7% of average national income in wealthy countries.
Broadband is most affordable in Europe, where a basic subscription costs on
average less than 2% of GNI per capita. In some developing countries, that
figure rises to well over 50%.
Differences in high-speed broadband Internet access still persist. Star
performers in terms of access speeds are the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong
(China) and Japan, alongside some surprise top performers in Europe, including
Bulgaria, Iceland and Portugal. In Africa, fewer than 10% of fixed-broadband
subscriptions offer speeds of at least 2Mbit/s – a situation also reflected in
several countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and the Arab world.
The report also reveals for the first time global figures on the number of
women (1.3 billion) and men (1.5 billion) using the Internet. The figures
represent 37% of all women, compared with 41% of all men – but the gender gap is
more pronounced in the developing world, where 16% fewer women than men use the
Internet, compared with only 2% fewer women than men in the developed world.
However, despite the disparities, the gender gap continues to close, with access
to mobile technology increasingly within reach of women worldwide.
More statistics and a range of comparative charts are available in the full
World in 2013: ICT Facts and Figures report at:
The raw statistics used to create the charts in the report are
available on demand.
Follow the discussion on Twitter at: #Worldin2013
Follow ITU on Facebook:
For more information, please contact:
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information