Report: Internet and Cell Phones Getting Cheaper
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, published a report yesterday that outlined the growth of the mobile and broadband industries throughout the world. The report reveals that, even in underdeveloped countries, mobile phone usage is dramatically increasing and broadband prices are quickly falling.
The ITU report found that, on average, broadband Internet prices decreased 42 percent last year across 161 countries worldwide. The downside is that prices are still too expensive for most people in poor countries.
The ITU report also points out that mobile phone subscription numbers are soaring. Approximately 67 percent of people worldwide have a cell phone subscription, according to the report. Again, the condition of a nation affects the numbers. Underdeveloped countries see only around 50 percent penetration while well developed countries have reached over 100 percent saturation, meaning that everyone has a cell phone and many have more than one. Cumulatively, that means there are 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide, according to ITU estimates.
Broadband usage continues to grow as well, though at a slower pace. The ITU estimates 26 percent of the world population, or 1.7 billion people, were using the Internet last year. Surprisingly, Internet usage was only common among 64 percent of the population in developed countries. Undeveloped countries only saw 18 percent penetration, and China accounted for one third of Internet use in developing countries.
"The report confirms that despite the recent economic downturn, the use of [these] services has continued to grow worldwide," Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, director of ITU's telecommunication development bureau, said in a statement.
That's good news because, as the ITU points out, Internet access benefits countries economically and socially, regardless of whether they are undeveloped. The ITU also says there is a link between Internet access and better grades in school as well as more equality between men and women.