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:: ICT Market Overview

The last decades have seen uninterrupted growth in terms of telecommunication and ICT infrastructure development and service uptake. By the end of 2008, an important milestone in the ICT development race was achieved: over 4 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, translating into a penetration rate of 61 per cent.1 At the same time, ITU estimates that the world had 1.3 billion fixed telephone lines – or 19 per 100 inhabitants – and that almost a quarter of the world’s 6.7 billion people were using the Internet. However, fixed and mobile broadband penetration levels remained relatively low and stood at 6 and 5 per cent respectively (Chart 2.1).

Despite high growth rates, record numbers, and allhigh penetration rates, major differences in ICT levels between regions and between developed and developing economies remain.

Global ICT developments, 1998-2008

:: 2.1 Fixed and mobile cellular telephony

There has been a clear shift from fixed to mobile cellular telephony, especially since the turn of the century. By the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines (Chart 2.2, top left). In contrast to the growth in the mobile sector, fixed telephony has experienced nearly no growth in the last decade. Indeed, fixed line global penetration has been stagnating at just under 20 per cent for the last years. While the number of fixed telephone lines is actually decreasing in many developed countries, it tends to show very small growth rates in developing countries, where penetration rates stand at 14 per cent.

The spread of mobile cellular services and technologies has made great strides towards connecting the previously unconnected, with growth most significant in developing regions, where, by the end of 2007, mobile cellular penetration had reached close to 40 per cent (Chart 2.2, top right). By the end of 2007, 64 per cent of the world’s mobile subscriptions were from developing countries. Five years earlier, in 2002, they represented only 44 per cent (Chart 2.2, bottom left).

Amongst the developing regions, Africa continues to have the highest mobile growth rate (32 per cent in 2006/2007) and mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of this century to over one fourth of the population today. Africa’s mobile penetration of 28 per cent compares to 38 per cent in Asia, 72 per cent in the Americas, 79 per cent in Oceania, and 111 per cent in Europe2 (Chart 2.2, bottom right). Since growth rates continue to be strongest in those regions where penetration is relatively low, the mobile cellular divide is expected to be reduced further over time.

Global ICT developments, 1998-2008
Global ICT developments, 1998-2008
Global ICT developments, 1998-2008
Global ICT developments, 1998-2008

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