By the end of 2013, there will be a total of 2.7 billion Internet users and 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions in the world, according to the latest Measuring the Information Society report by United Nations’ ITU.
The mobile-broadband has been growing impressively at 40 per cent CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) since 2007. Mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries have already outnumbered subscriptions in the developed world. Mobile-broadband penetration rate in the developed countries is reaching 75 per cent against 20 per cent in developing world. Global penetration rate is expected to reach almost 30 per cent, or 2 billion subscriptions, by end of 2013 (although roughly half of the world’s population lives within the reach of 3G networks).
Mobile-broadband Subscriptions, 2007 – 2013 (Source: ITU)
ITU also undertook a comprehensive study of the mobile-broadband and fixed-broadband costs to shed light on the affordability trends of broadband services around the world. See below chart with costs in percentage of GNI p.c. In the developing countries, postpaid fixed-broadband service is the most expensive (on average) compared to postpaid/prepaid mobile-broadband service. The study also shows that postpaid mobile data plan is less expensive than prepaid plan in the developing countries.
However, in the developed countries, it is the opposite. Prepaid data plan is cheaper than postpaid. Also, fixed-broadband is cheaper than prepaid computer-based mobile broadband.
When comparing mobile data and mobile voice costs, the ITU report shows that it is mobile data is 40% more expensive (in terms of % of GNI p.c.) than mobile voice in the developing countries. In the developed world, mobile data is cheaper than voice.
Mobile-broadband and Fixed-broadband prices, 2012 (Source: ITU)
ITU estimates that almost 40 per cent of the global population will be using the Internet by end of this year. However, 4.4 billion people in the world are not yet online. In 2012, there were additional 250 million online users. In developing countries, the Internet penetration level will reach 31 per cent. The developed world will reach almost 77 per cent. The chart below shows the Internet penetration trends over the past one decade:
Internet Users, 2003 – 2013 (Source: ITU)