Mobile networks now cover more than 90% of the world's population, with subscribers set to reach 5.3 billion by the end of 2010, according to the ITU.
The number of 3G users has grown to 940 million this year, with 143 countries now offering commercial 3G commercial services, while the volume of SMS has trebled over the past three years to 6.1 trillion in 2010 – equivalent to 200,000 per second.
Around 3.8 billion of the world's mobile customers will come from developing nations by the end of the year, according to ITU telecom director Sami Al Basheer.
“Mobile phone penetration in developing countries now stands at 68% — higher than any other technology before,” he said.
Asian markets are generating the biggest number of subscriber adds, with China and India expected to sign another 300 million customers this year alone.
Mobile's success in developing regions is down to its affordability, the ITU said. By contrast, fixed broadband prices remain prohibitive, with the average entry-level service costing $190 per month (€137) in emerging regions compared to just $28 in developed countries.
As a result, fixed broadband penetration remains at only 8% globally. In emerging markets there are 4.4 subscriptions per 100 people, compared to 24.6 in developed areas.
APAC has 21.9 internet users per 100 head of population, compared to 65 in Europe, 55 in the Americas and 9.6 in Africa.