95pc of world’s population now covered by a mobile signal, says ITU

1 Dec 201518 Shares

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The world is getting more and more connected, especially in the developing world

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More than 43pc of the world’s population is now online and over 95pc of the global population is now covered by a mobile cellular signal, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The Geneva-based body, which operates on behalf of the UN, revealed that mobile subscriptions have reached more than 7.1bn worldwide.

The Measuring the Information Society Report found that all 167 economies worldwide improved their ICT development index (IDI) values between 2010 and 2015.

This means that the levels of information and communication technology (ICT) access, use and skills continue to improve all around the world.

‘Progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty’
– BRAHIMA SANOU

Over 95pc of the global population is now covered by mobile-cellular services, meaning that there are still an estimated 350m people worldwide who live in places that are still out of reach of a mobile network – a figure that has dropped from 450m a year ago.

But while 89pc of the world’s urban population is now covered by a 3G network, only 29pc of the world’s 3.4bn people living in rural areas benefit from 3G coverage.

By the end of this year, 46pc of households globally will have internet access at home, up from 44pc last year and just 30pc five years ago, in 2010. In the developed world, 81.3pc of households now have home internet access, compared to 34.1pc in the developing world, and just 6.7pc in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Latest data show that growth in internet use has slowed down, however, posting 6.9pc global growth in 2015, after 7.4pc growth in 2014. However, the number of internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past five years (2010-2015), with two-thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

Fastest growth continues to be seen in mobile broadband, with the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide having grown more than four-fold in five years, from 0.8bn in 2010 to an estimated 3.5bn in 2015. The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly, to an estimated 0.8bn today.

“ICTs will be essential in meeting each and every one of the 17 newly-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, added: “Progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty.”

Ireland falls behind in ICT rankings

The world’s leading ICT country was Korea, followed by Denmark, Iceland, the UK, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Norway.

Ireland was nowhere near the top 10 and, in fact, saw its ranking slip from 20th place in 2010 to 22nd place in 2015, despite improvement in the country’s ICT infrastructure.

As a country, Ireland has 43.2 telephone subscriptions per 100 people and over 104.2 mobile subscriptions per 100 people. International internet bandwidth per internet user is an average of 16Mbps and the percentage of households with internet access is 82.1.

Close to 80pc of the population uses the internet and the percentage of fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people is 26.0.

It found Ireland has an adult literacy rate of 96.6pc.

Mobile phone users in Kenya image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com