61 percent global mobile penetration by December: UN
Saturday, 27 September 2008, 04:47 Hrs
Geneva: Led by the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China, global mobile phone penetration will touch 61 percent before the end of this year, a statement by a UN agency said here Thursday. Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure of the UN's leading telecommunications agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), announced in New York Wednesday that worldwide mobile cellular subscribers are likely to reach the four-billion mark before the end of this year, the statement said. Toure was speaking at the high-level events on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York, where he also participated in the UN Private Sector Forums addressing the global food crisis and the role of technological innovation in meeting the MDGs. The MDGs were adopted following the UN Millennium Declaration by member-states in 2000, representing an international commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education and promote gender equality among several other goals. It also called for developing a global partnership for development that would include making available the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs). ICTs have been recognized as an important tool to achieve the MDGs. "Since the turn of the century, the growth of mobile cellular subscribers has been impressive, with year-on-year growth averaging 24 percent between 2000 and 2008," Toure said. He added that while in 2000, mobile penetration stood at only 12 percent, it surpassed the 50 percent mark by early 2008. It is estimated to reach about 61 percent by the end of 2008. "The fact that four billion subscribers have been registered worldwide indicates that it is technically feasible to connect the world to the benefits of ICT and that it is a viable business opportunity," said Toure. "Clearly, ICTs have the potential to act as catalysts to achieve the 2015 targets of the MDGs." The impressive growth in the number of mobile cellular subscribers is mainly due to developments in some of the world's largest markets. The BRIC economies are expected to have an increasingly important impact in terms of population, resources and global GDP share. These economies alone are expected to account for over 1.3 billion mobile subscribers by the end of 2008. Market liberalisation has played a key role in spreading mobile telephony by driving competition and bringing down prices. India's mobile operators increasingly compete for low-income customers and average revenue per user in India has reached around $7, one of the lowest in the world, the statement said. While mobile broadband subscribers remain concentrated in the developed world, a number of developing countries such as Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines and Sri Lanka in the Asia-Pacific have launched third generation or 3G networks. India too has started the process of introducing 3G services. Broadband uptake enables a range of socially desirable and valuable online services, specifically targeting the MDGs in areas such as e-government, e-education and e-health, the statement said.