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There are 6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide

Posting in Technology

There are now almost as many cell phone subscriptions as people.

A new report on global technology development by the International Telecommunication Union found that there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions at the end of 2011 -- 7 billion people inhabit Earth. China and India each have around 1 billion subscriptions.

The number of mobile subscriptions is double the number of Internet subscriptions -- there are 2.3 billion.

A major reason for this increase in accessibility is the fact that telecommunication and Internet services are becoming much more affordable. Between 2008 and 2011 the cost of fixed-telephone, mobile-cellular, and fixed-broadband Internet services dropped 30 percent. Fixed-Internet saw the largest drop, with the costs dropping 75 percent.

One area with the sharpest growth rate is mobile broadband services. In the last year mobile broadband has increased 40 percent globally and 78 percent in developing countries. And because these services are cheaper than fixed-Internet services more people worldwide and in developing countries will be connected to the Internet.

But greater accessibility to these services does not mean equality. The report ranked 155 countries based on the strength of their information and communication technology economy. The Republic of Korea came out on top, followed by Sweden, Finland, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The United States was seventh.

And of the countries with the greatest access to these technologies, the top 30 were high-income countries. On this ranking developed countries scored twice as high as developing countries. In addition, 70 percent of Internet users live in wealthier countries compared to 24 percent in developing countries.

Still, accessibility is growing and some countries are catching up faster than others. The report identified Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Saudi Arabia as countries that have made the most progress in information and communication technology.

Read the report here.

[h/t Associated Press]

Photo: Flickr/Nietnagel

— By on October 10, 2012, 11:09 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure