Mobile phone subscribers around the globe totaled nearly 1.5 bln by the middle of this year, about 25% of the world’s population, according to International Telecommunication Union. The ITU said the growth in mobile phone subscribers had outpaced that for fixed lines, who totaled some 1.185 bln today against 1 bln at the start of the century, and was also outstripping the rate of increase in Internet users.
Driving the mobile phone phenomenon was a rapid rise in subscriber numbers in three of the world’s most populous nations – China, India and Russia. And by the middle of 2004 developing countries as a whole had overtaken rich nations to account for 56% of all mobile subscribers, while accounting for 79% of growth in the market since 2000. China reported 310 mln users – about 25% of its total population. India saw an increase of 11 mln, or 25%, and reached a total of 44.5 mln subscribers. In Russia mobile phone subscriber numbers jumped from 36.5 mln a year ago to 60 mln by September of 2004.
The value of global mobile business reached $414 bln in revenues in 2003, a tenfold increase in the decade since 1993, while over the same period the overall telecommunications sector grew by an average of 8.8% to reach $1.1 trillion.