Global cell phone use at 50 percent

Global cell phone use at 50 percent

Thu Nov 29, 12:42 PM ET

Worldwide mobile telephone
subscriptions reached 3.3 billion — equivalent to half the
global population — on Thursday, 26 years after the first
cellular network was launched, research firm Informa said.

Since the first Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) networks were
switched on in 1981 in Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Norway, mobile
phones have become the consumer electronics sector with the
largest volume of sales in the world.

"The mobile industry has constantly outperformed even the
most optimistic forecasts for subscriber growth," Mark Newman,
head of research at Informa said in a statement.

"For children growing up today the issue is not whether
they will get a mobile phone, it’s a question of when," Newman

In recent years the industry has seen surging growth in
outskirts of China and India, helped by constantly falling
phone and call prices, with cellphone vendors already eyeing
inroads into Africa’s countryside to keep up the growth.

The Nordic start for mobile telephony was the basis for the
success stories of Finnish Nokia (NOK1V.HE) and Sweden’s
Ericsson (ERICb.ST).

Fast growth in Asian wireless markets has since helped
Korean Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and LG Electronics
(066570.KS) as well as China’s ZTE (0763.HK) take their place
among the top six cellphone vendors globally.

But although mobile subscriptions have reached the
equivalent of 50 percent of the population, this does not mean
that half the people in the world now have a mobile phone,
since Informa said 59 countries have mobile penetration of over
100 percent — where some owners have more than one phone.

"The economic difference between the more mature markets
and those in developing countries is highlighted by the vast
differences in operators’ revenues per user," Informa said.

Hutchison Whampoa’s (0013.HK) 3 operation has an average
revenue per user of just over $70 a month in Britain, while
Hutchison’s Sri Lankan operator counts revenues of below $3 per

According to the International Programs Center of the U.S.
Census Bureau, the total population of the world reached
6,634,294,193 on Thursday.

At the same time 2,571,563,279 people were using the most
widely used mobile technology, GSM (Global System for Mobile
communications), according to global trade body GSM

The second largest mobile technology, CDMA, had 421.4
million users at end September.

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