The number of mobile phone subscribers worldwide will rise to 2.6 billion this year and 4 billion by 2010, thanks to the development of ultra-low-cost handsets, market researcher iSuppli, quoted by an InfoWorld Daily report said.
The iSuppli report said new subscribers in developing nations such as India and China are behind the rapid increase in mobile phone users, the researcher said, while the mobile industry has rallied to the cause with ultra-low-cost handsets.
Africa and the Middle East are also playing a key role in driving new subscriber growth, said Dale Ford, vice president of market intelligence for iSuppli.
He believes mobile phones have become such an important tool for people to live and thrive that they are becoming a basic human right, the report said.
The ultra-low-cost mobile phone initiative started early last year as a way to connect people to existing mobile networks.
The GSM Association (GSMA) earlier challenged handset makers to design a phone that would cost under $30.
The eventual winner, Motorola, won the contest, as well as a contract to supply the mobile phones to network operators in emerging markets including Bangladesh, China, India and Russia, which ordered millions of the handsets under the GSMA sponsored program.
The new GSMA goal is to halve the cost of a handset again to $15 by 2008. Chipmakers such as Texas Instruments, MediaTek, and Infineon Technologies, which develop the most costly components inside a mobile phone, say the $15 target is achievable, and that $20 handsets could be out by the end of this year, the report said.