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ITU Stats - Issue 4: September 2010

Issue 4: September 2010

At least half the world’s people should have access to broadband by 2015

Building on Broadband

Tremendous achievements have been made over the past five years in bringing broadband access to millions of people around the world – but much more needs to be done.

Broadband by 2015ITU has set a clear target by recommending that at least half the world’s people have access to broadband by 2015.

  • By the beginning of 2010 there were 479 million fixed broadband subscriptions worldwide (a penetration rate of 22.6%) – up from 216 million four years earlier.

  • By the beginning of 2010 there were 667 million mobile broadband (3G) subscriptions worldwide – up from 73 million four years earlier. While these aren’t all necessarily active subscriptions, the growing number highlights the vast potential wireless technologies hold.

  • ITU expects mobile broadband subscriptions to exceed 900 million globally by the end of 2010.

  • The developing world’s share of broadband subscriptions is growing steadily: the developing world accounted for 42% of global fixed broadband subscriptions at the beginning of 2010 (up from 33% four years earlier), and 26% of mobile broadband subscriptions (up from 22% four years earlier).

  • Despite these promising growth rates, penetration levels in developing countries are still low: 3.6% for fixed and 3.1% for mobile broadband subscriptions.

  • At least thirty countries1 have now included broadband as part of their universal access/service definition – meaning they consider broadband as a public service to which every citizen should have access.

    1 Countries include: Albania, Andorra, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Finland, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, India, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Spain, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, United States.

    2 Mobile broadband subscriptions refer to the number of subscriptions to mobile cellular networks with access to data communications (eg the Internet) at broadband downstream speeds (here defined as greater than or equal to 256 kbit/s). This refers to potential mobile broadband subscriptions and not active subscriptions.

Graph: Broadband subscriptions 2005-2009


The rise and rise of 3G
  • 3G subscriptions grew almost tenfold in the four years from the start of 2006 to the start of 2010.

  • 3G subscriptions are growing steadily as a percentage of total mobile cellular subscriptions – up from 3% of the total at the start of 2006 to 14% of the total at the start of 2010.

  • There were more 3G mobile cellular subscriptions globally by the beginning of 2010 (667 million) than there were total cellular subscriptions globally at the start of the decade (491 million).

Graph: Mobile cellular subscriptions by technology


Data and analysis in this ITU StatShot are drawn from the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

Further ICT statistics are available online at ITU’s ICT Eye:

ITU also publishes a full range of current statistics and analyses. For further information see:


Note: Click on any graphic to view / download a high resolution version


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