March 03, 2009
Over Half Of Humanity Use Cell Phones

Cellular telephone infrastructure is a lot easier to build than ground phone lines to every dwelling. So countries that are still too underdeveloped to have widespread land line phone service are getting mobile phone networks. Cellular phone technology has now spread so far and gotten so cheap that likely more than half of humanity use cell phones.

There are now 4.1 billion mobile subscriptions in the world, a global penetration rate of 61.1 percent: This compares to 1.270 billion fixed line subscribers, corresponding to a penetration rate of 18.9 percent.

Since some people have multiple mobile phone subscriptions (e.g. one for one and one for home) probably less than 61% of the world's people have phones. By contrast, in poorer countries mobile phones are shared and rented out. Also, people on pay-for-use plans can end up using their phones very little.

Even Africa has widespread cellular phone use. One has to wonder how many hungry people have cell phones. Also, how hard is to for them to keep the phones charged?

While just 1 in 50 Africans had a mobile in the year 2000, now 28 percent have a cellular subscription, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

What's the net effect of all this phone usage? It must enable more trading and organizing of business activity. But what else does it do to society?

Internet usage still hasn't quite reached a quarter of the world's population.

The survey, by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN, also found that nearly a quarter of the world's 6.7 billion people use the internet.

Only 5% have broadband at home. I've already decided that living some place that is out of reach of broadband is a total nonstarter. I'm more tied to the internet than to TV. If I had to give up either internet or TV then bye bye TV.

My guess is that going forward human-to-human interaction won't grow as fast as human-to-machine interaction. People will increasingly find machines providing them with the information and entertainment they seek.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 03 12:05 AM  Comm Tech Society

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