2 March 2009

World’s poor drive growth in global cellphone use

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Alaburu Maiga, right, tries to use the camera on his cellphone with the help of an unidentified boy in the village of Gono, Mali, last year.
More than half the world’s population now pay to use a mobile phone and nearly a quarter use the internet, according to an ITU report, as reported by Associated Press.

Six in 10 people around the world now have cellphone subscriptions, signaling that mobile phones are the communications technology of choice, particularly in poor countries, according to a U.N. report published Monday.

By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1 billion subscriptions globally, compared with about 1 billion in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said.

Fixed line subscriptions increased at a much slower pace to 1.27 billion from about 1 billion over the same period.

“There has been a clear shift to mobile cellular telephony,” the agency said, noting that developing countries now account for about two-thirds of cellphones in use. In 2002, less than half of mobile subscriptions globally were in the developing world, it said.

Internet use more than doubled. An estimated 23% of people on the planet used the Internet last year, up from 11% in 2002. Poor countries still lag far behind on Internet access, with only 1 in 20 people in Africa going online in 2007 — the most recent year for which firm figures were available.

Read full story: San Francisco Chronicle | The Guardian | USA Today
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