A new report from the United Nations has predicted that there will be over three billion internet users by the end of 2014, with over three quarters using mobile broadband to browse online. The study, from the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, forecast that 2.3 billion people across the planet would use their mobile phone to connect to the internet, although there were vast differences between various global markets.
Mobile broadband use was highest in Europe at 64 per cent penetration, followed by the Americas (59 per cent). The lowest prevalence of online browsing via mobile was in Africa (19 per cent) and Asia-Pacific (23 per cent).
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré commented that:
“The newly released ICT figures confirm once again that information and communication technologies continue to be the key drivers of the information society.”
The research also looked into the rise of mobile ownership across the globe, discovering that there would be nearly seven billion mobile subscribers by the end of 2017. Over half of these (3.6 billion) would be in the Asia Pacific region, with a penetration rate of 89 per cent.
The research will be of interest to businesses operating across a number of international markets, demonstrating that more users are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile broadband for online access. Conversely, the report from ITU also found that fixed-line telephone subscriptions continued to decline (with 100 million fewer subscriptions in 2014). Businesses need to be aware of the continuing reliance on mobile as an online enabler and evolve their strategies for usability and customer service accordingly.