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.