Worldwide Mobile Saturation at almost 6 Billion

by Matt Klassen on January 5, 2012

In late October 2011 countries around the world marked a momentous occasion in human history, as the world’s population eclipsed 7 billion people. Along with celebration, however, came dire warnings about the Earth’s ability to support that many people, with many predicting that food, shelter, and clean water will increasingly become scarce for future generations in developing nations.

Amidst this growing crisis though, as many babies face a future without many of the necessities for a healthy life, there’s one thing that most will have…a mobile phone.

In a year-end report issued by the International Telecommunications Union (PDF), surveying both the mobile and online landscapes, it is estimated that mobile phone subscriptions have now penetrated 87 percent of the world’s population, or 5.9 billion people. The report also brought to light the current state of global wireless network coverage, showing that most devices still operate at slower 2G speeds…finally explaining why Nokia is still able to sell phones.

Throughout my travels across this Earth of ours one thing has always fascinated me, the saturation of mobile technology. I’ve slept in Bedouin camps in the deserts of the Middle East and worked in the fields with farmers in rural China and while many nomads and farmers often don’t have 2 dollars to rub together they do always have a mobile device in their hands, it’s simply a way out life.

Not only is it a way of life, though, it’s the way companies like Nokia are able to continue to top the list of mobile devices sold globally, as the Finnish company, among many others, specializes in offering low cost cellphones to developing nations.

Aside from global subscription statistics, the report by the ITU also noted the global growth of 3G wireless technology, network technology already on its way out the door here in North America. It was found that 159 nations around the globe have already begun the task of establishing 3G networks, although 2G coverage is still the global norm.

While I lament the fact that people often are able to get their hands on a mobile device more easily than food, shelter, water, or education, it speaks to the fact that once cutting edge mobile technology is becoming a integral part of our global existence, a trend that will likely see the increasing saturation of smartphones around the world—and the concomitant fall in Nokia’s sales figures.

As a final aside, the report also mentioned some network statistics from developed nations around the world, and while we may be feeling fortunate to be enjoying the relatively fast speeds of our burgeoning 4G networks, both Canada and the U.S. sit considerably back of the world’s most advanced mobile networks in Korea and much of Europe.

So whether you decry the fact that mobile technology will be easier to acquire than the basic necessities of life for future generations or celebrate the fact that the entire world is advancing technologically, consider this some food for thought.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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