Mobile subscriptions to outnumber people by 2014

Figures released by The International Telecoms Union show that the number of mobile phone subscriptions will outnumber people in 2014.

The figures are part of a UN agency report, which also found that more than a third of the global population are online.

There are currently 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions and 7.1 billion people.

The Commonwealth of Independent States, the alliance of countries formerly in the Soviet Union, has the highest mobile penetration with 1.7 subscriptions for every person. Africa has the least, with 63 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau said: “Every day we are moving closer to having almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions as people on earth.

“The mobile revolution is ‘m-powering’ people in developing countries by delivering ICT applications in education, health, government, banking, environment and business.”

However, in some countries, such as India, mobile growth is slowing.

Almost 40% of the world’s population is online. Europe has the highest penetration (75%), followed by the Americas (61%), Asia has 32% of its population online, and Africa 16%.

ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure said the progress was ‘extraordinary’ but said more needed to be done: “Two-thirds of the world’s population, some 4.5 billion people, is still offline. This means that two-thirds of the world’s people are still locked out of the world’s biggest market.”

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