60% of world’s population now has cell phone, highest ever

Chicago (IL) – A U.N. report published today states that six in ten people (60%) of the world’s population has a cell phone subscription. The driving growth trend is coming from poor, developing countries. This 60% figure is up from just under 15% in 2002.

Internet use has more than doubled to 23% in 2008 up from 11% in 2002. Only 1 in 20 people in the same poor countries have Internet access, however in rich countries the fixed broadband services increased to almost 20% market penetration, while on average only 1 in 20 worldwide have high speed Internet.

Mobile broadband has also shown its fastest increase, with 3% of people worldwide having it on average, compared to 14% in rich countries.

Fixed line subscriptions (home phones) have increased at a slower rate, from 1 billion in 2002 to 1.27 billion in 2009, meaning cellular phones outnumber direct-wired phones in excess of 3:1.

The 106-page U.N. report also ranked countries by how advanced their information and communications technology (ICT) is. The order went as follows:

1) Sweden
2) South Korea (getting nation-wide Gigabit broadband by 2012)
3) Denmark
4) Netherlands
5) Iceland
6) Norway

The United States came in at #17, with Hong Kong at #11, China at #73 and India at #118, both of which have a high technology base but whose ranking was affected by their large populations and poor, rural areas.

Myanmar’s militaristic government gave that country the only cited decline over the same period, with Internet bandwidth dropping 90%. This came following the Internet being shut down at times, along with several bloggers being jailed for published content.