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BLOG: Billions of mobile phones, 600 million Facebookers

Ross O. Storey | April 4, 2011
Latest UN figures highlight the global 'tech obsession'.

According to the experts, the world's population is likely to grow to seven billion people by 2013. In this current year 2011, communications technology is already becoming accessible to much of the developed world.

The International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) latest 11th edition of the ICT regulatory report "Trends in Telecommunication Reform Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2010-2011', released on 31 March 2011, provides some truly startling figures.

The ITU says there are now 5.3 billion mobile cellular subscriptions across the world, including 940 million subscriptions to mobile broadband services, a figure which is tipped to reach one billion before the end of this year; that's nearly four times the entire population of the United States, or most of the population of India.

And it's not just the rich city dwellers who make up these numbers. The ITU rReport says access to mobile networks is now available to 90 per cent of the world's population overall. Of people living in rural areas, 80 per cent now have mobile cellular coverage.

We've all heard about the massive impact of social networking, but this latest United Nations report puts things in perspective. It says that at the end of 2010, Facebook alone counted 600 million active users, representing more than one third of Internet users worldwide. Put another way, this means that Facebook is actually the third most populous 'country' in the world, after China and India.

Three years to reach 500 million

And, 40 per cent of active Facebook users accessed the platform through their mobile devices. It took Mark Zukerberg's concept company only two years to grow to 500 million users.

Micro-blogging site Twitter now has more than 200 million registered users, and 37 per cent of active Twitter users use their mobile device to tweet.

The ITU data also shows that two billion videos are watched every day on YouTube, while five billion photos are now hosted on Flickr. We have become an extremely visual world with many mobiles armed with a camera.

If you are wondering what sort of impact that information technology is having on human-kind, the ITU has this to say:

"ICTs are truly at the heart of everything we do," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré. "Technology is reshaping the lives of everyone - even those who still lack direct access themselves."

The Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2010-2011 also contends that broadband access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity that will be crucial to every country's economic, social, and political growth.

ICT regulators' 'critical role'

The ITU says that: "As effective regulation becomes crucial to economic growth across all sectors, two broad themes emerge in the report: the ubiquity of ICTs, and the critical role of telecom/ICT regulators in creating an enabling digital environment.


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