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What do we mean by "Mobile overtakes Fixed"?

In 2002, mobile subscribers worldwide have outnumbered fixed-line subscribers. The dimensions in which this cross-over gain significance are access to basic telecommunications services as well as information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for economic and social development.

The phenomenon of the mobile cross-over has taken place across geographic criteria such as countries, regions, and contents, across socio-demographic criteria such as gender, income, or age, and across economic criteria such as price premium for mobile (micro) or GDP per capita (macro).

Mobile communications has increased access to telecommunications services particularly in developing countries. The cellular network can be built faster than a fixed-line network, it can cover geographically challenging areas, services have been introduced in a competitive environment, and pre-paid models have opened access to mobile cellular for those who would otherwise not qualify for subscription plans.

In countries, where mobile communications is the primary access to communications, increased exchange of information on trade or health services are contributing to development goals; in countries where people commonly use both fixed-line and mobile communications the personal traits of the cell phone are changing social interaction.

With all of these positive outlooks, is there a need for policy changes or re-constructions of regulatory frameworks? Now that growth rates are slowing down on a global scale, is there potential for market failures, wrong incentives for building infrastructure, a lack of competitive forces? Can the mobile communications industry continue its prosperous development into the future? 

This website has been designed in order to provide background resources on some of these topics.

International roaming
Pricing and billing
Competition in mobile markets
Licensing and spectrum policy
Mobile data communications
Consumer protection and privacy

A background paper to serve as an introduction to the topic is available for download: "Mobile Overtakes Fixed: Implications for Policy and Regulation ", ITU, June 2003.

A background paper to serve as an introduction to the topic is available for download: "Mobile Overtakes Fixed: Implications for Policy and Regulation ", ITU, June 2003.

A related New Initiatives Workshop on "Shaping the future mobile information society" will be held in March 2004.

General Policy Issues: When Mobile overtakes Fixed

See also ITU Internet Reports 2002 "Internet for a mobile generation", available here

General regulatory resources
European Commission - Information Society - Telecoms,
European Parliament and the Council, Universal service directive
OFTEL, Publications on Mobile  
Related Sites and Material

OECD, Measuring the Information Economy 2002

The Global Information Technology Report 2001-2002: Readiness for the Networked World, Center for International Development at Harvard University

World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies

GSM World, GSM World Statistics

UMTS Forum, Reports
Open Mobile Alliance

Some Implications for Regulation of ICT and Media Convergence, A. Henten, M. Falch, & R. Tadayoni, WDR Discussion Paper

Multisector Utility Regulation, R. Samarajiva, A. Mahan, & A. Barendse, WDR Discussion Paper


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Contact for this page : Strategy and Policy Unit
Updated : 2011-04-04