Are you getting this signal?

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Joseph Thavaraja

90% of world population now has mobile network access. And close to a quarter (23%) of the 8.3 billion world population has access to Internet, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Released on the eve of the first ever World Statistics Day (Wednesday October 20), “The World in 2010: ICT Facts and Figures” by ITU says that 90% of world population now has mobile network access (this, of course, does not mean that 90% ‘own’ a mobile phone-only that they have ‘access’ to mobile networks/coverage). ITU however warns ‘mobile cellular growth is slowing worldwide’. It adds that among the estimated 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions (by end 2010), 72% -that is 3.8 billion- will be from the developing world.  On the other hand, in the developed countries, growth in mobile sector has slowed ‘considerably’ during the past five years.

Data (‘SMSes’), rather than voice services (‘calls’) are leading the growth in mobile services with close to 200,000 text messages being sent every second-over the period of 2007 to end 2010, the global SMS volume stands at a ‘staggering 6.1 trillion’, said ITU. Average cost of an SMS is US $ 0.07 (SL Rs 8.00) and every second, Rs 1.5 million worth SMSes (US $ 14000) transmitted globally.

People are moving rapidly from 2G to 3G platforms, across globally and in 2010, 143 countries were offering 3G  commercially. ITU says that Sweden, Norway, Ukraine and the United States have started to offer services at even higher broadband speeds called as 4G, which is the next generation wireless platform.

ITU also reconfirms what many in the telecom industry across the world have already been subscribing to: “The ITU considers broadband as a catalyst for growth.”

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré adds: “Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology. It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness. It is also the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal in our race to meet the Millennium Development Goals.”

By the end of 2010, global fixed broadband ‘penetration’ will be 8% (though in developing countries it will be low: 4.4 subscriptions per 100 people compared to 24.6 in developed countries). One reason for the rapid increase in broadband connections is the high-bandwidth content and applications on the Internet.

As for internet use, ITU says that the global user base has doubled between 2005 and 2010, and by end of 2010, it will surpass the two billion mark, of which 1.2 billion will be in developing countries. “Some countries such as Estonia, Finland and Spain have declared access to the Internet as a legal right for citizens” ITU says and adds that 71% of the population in developed countries are online, but only 21% of the developing countries’ populace are online.” The world average for internet user penetration is 30%, in other words, half-a-billion, on a headcount.

According to the World Bank, Sri Lanka reports 1,163,500 internet users (by Sept. 2009) with a 5.5% internet penetration rate. The projection for 2010 is 8.3% (1,776,200). In contrast, mobile penetration is estimated to be 68%, with nine mobile operator firms-and growing: Are you getting this signal?

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