Telecom Lead India: ITU on Wednesday said mobile broadband subscriptions have climbed to 2.1 billion in 2013 from 268 million in 2007.
This reflects an average annual growth rate of 40 percent, making mobile broadband the most dynamic ICT market.
In developing countries, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions more than doubled from 2011 to 2013 (from 472 million to 1.16 billion) and surpassed those in developed countries in 2013.
Africa is the region with the highest growth rates over the past three years and mobile-broadband penetration has increased from 2 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2013.
By early 2013, the price of an entry-level mobile-broadband plan represents between 1.2-2.2 percent of monthly GNI p.c. in developed countries and between 11.3-24.7 percent in developing countries, depending on the type of service.
However, in developing countries, mobile broadband services cost considerably less than fixed-broadband services: 18.8 percent of
monthly GNI p.c. for a 1 GB postpaid computer-based mobile broadband plan compared to 30.1 percent of monthly GNI p.c.
for a postpaid fixed-broadband plan with 1 GB of data volume.
Among the four typical mobile-broadband plans offered in the market, postpaid handset-based services are the cheapest and prepaid computer-based services are the most expensive, across all regions.
A regional comparison highlights that mobile-broadband services remain largely unaffordable in Africa, where the price of a computer-based plan with 1GB of data volume represents on average more than 50 percent of GNI p.c.
Services are most affordable in Europe, where they represent on average less than 2 percent of GNI p.c.
In the Arab States and Asia and the Pacific region, postpaid handset-based services are relatively affordable, accounting for 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent of monthly GNI per capita, respectively; prices in the Americas and CIS remain relatively high (5 percent or above of monthly GNI p.c.) for all mobile-broadband services.
ITU also said more than half of all mobile subscriptions are now in Asia, which remains the powerhouse of market growth, and by the end of 2013 overall mobile penetration rates will have reached 96 percent globally, 128 percent in the developed world, and 89 percent in developing countries.
With many markets saturated, and penetration at over 100 percent in four of the six ITU world regions, mobile-cellular uptake is already slowing substantially, with growth rates falling to their lowest levels ever in both the developed and developing worlds.
ITU estimates that 2.7 billion people – or 39 percent of the world’s population – will be using the Internet by end 2013.
Internet access, however, will remain limited in the developing world, with only 31 percent of the population forecast to be online at the end of 2013, compared with 77 percent in the developed world. Europe will remain the world’s most connected region with 75 percent Internet penetration, largely outpacing Asia and the Pacific (32 percent) and Africa (16 percent).
Household Internet penetration – often considered the most important measure of Internet access – continues to rise. By end 2013, ITU estimates that 41 percent of the world’s households will be connected to the Internet.
Over the past four years, household access has grown fastest in Africa, with an annual growth rate of 27 percent. But despite a positive general trend, 90 percent of the 1.1 billion households around the world that are still unconnected are in the developing world.
The cost of fixed-broadband services has dropped precipitously over the past five years, declining by 82 percent if measured as a share of GNI per capita. But in developing countries, residential fixed-broadband services remain expensive, accounting for just over 30 percent of average monthly GNI per capita – compared to just 1.7 percent of average national income in wealthy countries.
Broadband is most affordable in Europe, where a basic subscription costs on average less than 2 percent of GNI per capita. In some developing countries, that figure rises to well over 50 percent.
Differences in high-speed broadband Internet access still persist.
Star performers in terms of access speeds are the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong (China) and Japan, alongside some surprise top performers in Europe, including Bulgaria, Iceland and Portugal. In Africa, fewer than 10 percent of fixed-broadband subscriptions offer speeds of at least 2Mbit/s – a situation also reflected in several countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and the Arab world.