GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: When it comes to betting the farm on mobile media, the math don’t lie. More people in developing countries around the world have cell phone subscriptions than toilets, according to the International Telecommunication Union. The ITU said cell subscriptions totaled 4 billion in developing countries at the end of 2010, while 2.6 billion people lacked “access to toilets or other forms of improved sanitation.”
Mobile cellular penetration in the developing world reached 70 percent at the end of 2010--six years after reaching 70 percent in the developed world, ITU said. As of 2002, only two countries had cellular penetration at more than 100 percent; at the end of last year, 100 did, with 17 at above 150 percent.
ITU also tallied up global Internet penetration, which reached 30 percent last year. User penetration in developed countries reached the same threshold in 2001.
Internet user penetration was under 1 percent in 72 economies in 2000. Ten years later, there were just six economies with Internet user penetration under 1 percent, ITU said. Internet user penetration in the developing world reached 21 percent in 2010.
The ITU broke down Internet and mobile phone penetration regionally. Mobile phone penetration in Africa last year was 45.2 percent; the Americas reached 94.5 percent. Asia and the Pacific was at 69.2 percent, while Europe stood at 117.7 percent.
Internet user penetration in Africa grew over 20-fold in the decade to 2010, from 0.5 to 10.8 percent. In the Commonwealth of Independent States, Internet penetration grew from 10.2 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2010. Internet user penetration in Asia and the Pacific grew from 3.3% percent in 2000 to 22.5 percent in 2010. By 2010, Internet user penetration in Europe had grown to 67 percent.
In 2010, 833 million people were living in the 49 U.N.-designated Least Developed Countries. In spite of these being the world’s poorest countries, and much remaining still to be done, mobile phone services across the LDCs grew steadily throughout the first decade of the new Millennium.
The ITU said that while the number of urban residents in developing countries living in slum conditions grew from 767 million to 828 million in the past decade, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions grew from 2 million to 280 million, and the number of Internet users grew more than fifty-fold, from well under a million to almost 38 million.
In 2010, almost two-thirds of people in LDCs had mobile cellular coverage, and mobile cellular penetration had reached 34 percent--up from just 5 percent only five years earlier, and close to the global figure for 2005. In just two of the 49 LDCs was mobile penetration still below 5 percent in 2010.
Internet user penetration in LDCs grew from 0.1 percent in the year 2000 to 4.6 percent in 2010. This is still far below the target set by the LDC III conference in 2001, of having 10 percent of people in LDCs online by 2010, however.
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