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Mobile broadband users outnumber fixed line by three to one

Geographical distribution of fixed broadband subscriptions by region (Broadband Commission Report)

Geographical distribution of fixed broadband subscriptions by region (Broadband Commission Report)

Over half the world’s population will have internet access within three years, with the development of mobile broadband now emerging as the fastest growing technology in human history, according to a new report for the international Broadband Commission for Digital Development. 

According to the report, over two in five of the world’s population are already online, with the number of internet users rising from 2.3 billion last year to 2.9 billion by the end of this year. Over 2.3 billion people will have access to mobile broadband by the end of 2014, and this figure will rise to 7.6 billion over the next five years, according to the report’s authors.

The report noted that there are now three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are fixed broadband connections. Fixed broadband subscriptions are expected to reach 711 million by the end of this year, up from 673 million in 2013. xDSL accounts for over half of fixed broadband subscriptions, with FTTx technologies accounting for about a quarter.

The Asia Pacific region accounts for 44% of fixed broadband connections, followed by the Americas with 22.9% and Europe with 24.4%.

By contrast, mobile broadband is taken by over half the inhabitants of 26 countries, with seven – Singapore, Finland, Japan, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark and Korea – having penetration in excess of 100%. The Asia Pacific accounts for 40% of mobile broadband subscriptions, followed by the Americas with 25% and Europe with 17%.

According to the report, South Korea continues to lead the way globally, with broadband penetration reaching 98% of households. Monaco overtook Switzerland this year to become the global fixed broadband leader, with 44% of the population of the principality now signed up. Penetration of fixed broadband exceeds 40% in four countries – Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The UK came 12th in the global ranking of people online, with Japan ranked 15th, the US 19th and Germany 20th.  Over half the population is online via either fixed or mobile connections in 77 countries.

The lowest broadband penetration countries include Eritrea, with 0.9% penetration, Timor Leste, with 1.1% and Myanmar with 1.2%.