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Cell Phones Hit New Benchmark: 6 Billion Subscriptions Worldwide, Says ITU


It’s official — we’ve reached a milestone, people: According to the International Telecommunications Union’s annual report, Measuring the Information Society 2012, the global population is sporting six billion cell phone subscriptions. (Two billion, or a full one-third of them, are from China and India.) This is an adoption rate the world has never seen before. And yes, it was totally predictable, especially with smartphone prices dropping like crazy and developing nations hitting the fast track for mobile growth.

“Over the past year, growth in mobile-broadband services continued at 40 percent globally and 78 percent in developing countries,” says the ITU. “There are now twice as many mobile-broadband subscriptions as fixed-broadband subscriptions worldwide.”

The increase is evident here in the U.S. as well. According to CTIA, Americans used 1.1 billion gigabytes of mobile data between July 2011 and June 2012. That’s an increase of 104 percent over the previous period. And, says the group, the number of U.S. cell phone subscriptions has actually exceeded the number of Americans themselves, at 322 million vs. 314 million. Most of those lines are for smartphones (41 percent), while a little less than a quarter (23 percent) are prepaid phones.

Here are a few more stats from CTIA:

  • In the U.S., cell phone owners used 2.321 trillion minutes over the past year — a three percent growth over the previous year.
  • Americans also sent 2.273 trillion texts over the past year, which is also a three percent increase compared to last year.
  • The average monthly domestic cell bill fell a bit to $47.16. In other words, on average, American subscribers each spend about $566 annually on mobile phone costs.

In addition, home Internet access fees also dropped, at least globally. Although fees in the U.S. seem to be as high as ever, the average cost worldwide fell 75 percent between 2008 and 2011, thanks to broader availability and cheaper rates in developing countries, says the ITU.

As for who tops the list of leading ICT economies, the organization pegs South Korea as number one, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

[Via Ars TechnicaInternational Telecommunications Union]

Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...