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Mobile Subscriptions to Reach 4.6 Billion by Year’s End

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Mobile communications subscriptions are expected to reach 4.6 billion by the end of this year, according to the International Telecommunication Union. The ITU said mobile broadband subscriptions alone will reach 600 million, having overtaken fixed broadband subscriptions last year.

“More than a quarter of the world’s population is online and using the Internet, as of 2009,” the ITU said. “Ever-increasing numbers are opting for high-speed Internet access, with fixed broadband subscriber numbers more than tripling from 150 million in 2004 to an estimated 500 million by the end of 2009.”

The rate of broadband growth varies across nations in conjunction with the state of their development. The ITU said that there is one fixed broadband subscription in Africa for every 1,000 people. In Europe, there are 200 subscribers per 1,000 people. Africa also had the highest price for broadband as well as the lowest income levels. The average cost of broadband in Africa was 41 percent of the region’s average monthly income. The cost in Europe was the lowest at around 2 percent.

China had the largest fixed broadband market with 6.2 subscribers per 100 people, pulling ahead of the United States at the end of 2008.

The ITU also said that three-quarters of the world’s households now have a TV set, and that about one-fourth of the population--around 1.9 billion people--have access to a computer at home.

“This demonstrates the huge market potential in developing countries, where TV penetration is already high, for converged devices, as the mobile, television and Internet worlds collide,” the ITU said.

The statistics are summarized in the ITU’s report, “The World in 2009: ICT Facts and Figures.”