The Report Every Interactive Marketer Should Have


By now you might have heard the mainstream media’s reduction of the report issued last week by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU): 6 billion people worldwide had mobile-cellular subscriptions by the end of last year. That means roughly 6 out of every 7 people in the world has gone mobile.

That key stat was drawn from the ITU’s report entitled “Measuring the Information Society 2012,” a statistical overview of the global state of information and communication technology (ICT). The ITU’s reports that a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband  Internet services has resulted in the worldwide growth of ICT.

Delve a little deeper and you’ll find a breakdown of mobile vs. mobile web, wired vs. wireless, dollars vs. lack thereof, etc.

According to the ITU’s data, the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and  Finland. Of the ten top-ranked countries, eight are from Europe. The two remaining  countries both come from the Asia-Pacific region, with the Republic of Korea in  first place, and Japan ranked 8th. The top five countries have not changed their  rank between 2010 and 2011. The only new entrant in the top ten is the UK, which  moved up from 14th place last year to 9th place in 2012.

The biggest takeaway: Global revenues from telecommunication services reach USD 1.5 trillion last year.

Here are some other major bullet points issued by the ITU:

Mobile cellular

  • Total mobile-cellular subscriptions reached almost 6 billion by end 2011, corresponding to a global penetration of 86 percent.
  • Growth was driven by developing countries, which accounted for more than 80 percent of the 660 million new mobile-cellular subscriptions added in 2011.
  • In 2011, 142 million mobile-cellular subscriptions were added in India, twice as many as in the whole Africa, and more than in the Arab States, CIS and Europe together.
  • By end 2011, there were 105 countries with more mobile-cellular subscriptions than inhabitants, including African countries such as Botswana, Gabon, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa.
  • Countries where mobile-cellular penetration increased the most in 2011 include Brazil, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Lao P.D.R. and Mali.

Mobile broadband

  • By end 2011, there were more than 1 billion mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide.
  • Mobile broadband has become the single most dynamic ICT service reaching a 40 percent annual subscription growth in 2011.
  • Although developing countries are catching up in terms of 3G coverage, huge disparities remain between mobile-broadband penetration in the developing (8 percent) and the developed world (51 percent).
  • In Africa there are less than 5 mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, whereas all other regions have penetration levels above 10 percent.
  • By end 2011, there were more mobile-broadband subscriptions than inhabitants in the Republic of Korea and Singapore. In Japan and Sweden, active mobile-broadband penetration surpassed 90 percent by end 2011.
  • In 2011, 144 million mobile-broadband subscriptions were added in the BRlCS (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa), accounting for 45 percent of the world’s total subscriptions added in 2011.

Fixed (wired) broadband

  • By end 2011, there were 590 million fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions worldwide.
  • Fixed (wired) broadband growth in developed countries is slowing (5 percent increase in 2011), whereas developing countries continue to experience high growth (18 percent in 2011).
  • Fixed (wired)-broadband penetration remains low in some regions, such as Africa and the Arab States, with 0.2 percent and 2 percent respectively by end 2011.
  • In 2011, 30 million fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions were added in China, about half of the total subscriptions added worldwide, and fixed (wired)-broadband penetration reached 12 percent in the country.
  • Top performers – such as France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland – had fixed (wired)-broadband penetrations above 35 percent by end 2011.
  • Countries where fixed (wired)-broadband penetration increased the most in 2011 include Bahrain, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mauritius and Uruguay. However, among these, only Bahrain and Uruguay surpassed the 10 percent fixed (wired)-broadband penetration by end 2011.


  • The percentage of individuals using the Internet continues to grow worldwide and by end 2011, 2.3 billion people were online.
  • In developing countries, the number of Internet users doubled between 2007 and 2011, but only a quarter of inhabitants in the developing world were online by end 2011.
  • The percentage of individuals using the Internet in the developed world reached the 70 percent landmark by end 2011. In Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden more than 90 percent of the population are online.
  • By end 2011, 70 percent of the total households in developed countries had Internet, whereas only 20 percent of households in developing countries had Internet access. Some outstanding exceptions include Lebanon and Malaysia with 62 percent and 61 percent of households with Internet respectively.
  • Total international Internet bandwidth increased seven-fold over the last five years reaching 76’000 Gbit/s by end 2011. This equates to 34’000 bit/s per Internet user worldwide.
  • Major differences in Internet bandwidth per Internet user persist between regions: on average, a user in Europe enjoys 25 times as much international Internet capacity as a user in Africa.

The full report is available for purchase on the ITU’s website.


  1. Great data points Mike. Its hard to imagine that “6 billion people worldwide had mobile-cellular subscriptions by the end of last year … roughly 6 out of every 7 people in the world has gone mobile.”

    Rural populations in developing nations have cell phones but no electricity! Talk about a highly-connected world.

    For developing nations where broadband penetration is low, SMS is still the dominant force in mobile marketing. Thanks for sharing.


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