The world’s telecom operators will support 4.6 billion mobile and 500 million broadband subs by the end of 2009, according to ITU’s latest annual survey.
Yet despite the continued sharp uptake of mobile services, a huge gap remains between the digital haves and have-nots, the agency said.
Broadband is the new divide. Mobile broadband subs now top 600 million, having overtaken fixed broadband subscribers in 2008. However, Africa has just only one fixed broadband subscriber for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared with Europe with 200 subs per 1,000.
The relative price for broadband is also highest in Africa, the region with the lowest income levels, the ITU noted.
“[T]here is still a large digital divide, and an impending broadband divide, which needs to be addressed urgently,” said Sami Al Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
Global telecom service take-up
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database.
*2009 data are estimates.