Friday, February 13, 2009

Four billion mobile connections reached

The world passed its four billionth mobile connection this week, passing another milestone along the road to the ubiquitous wireless connectivity of every human being.

The first commercial citywide cellular network was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979 and it took 23 years for one billion mobiles to be connected. The two billion mark was passed in 2005, with the three billion milestone passed in 2007 and the historic 'tipping point' where 50% of all human beings are carrying a mobile phone was reached in Q2, 2008.

Further growth in emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, plus the integration of previously unconnected devices are expected to push the number of global connections to six billion in 2013. There are only 6.7 billion human beings.

Mobile Broadband accounts for just 100 million of the four billion mobile connections, compared with 1.1 billion fixed broadband lines. Given the rapid penetration of mobile into the global community, mobile broadband can be expected to accelerate from this point too. Notably, with fixed line broadband included, broadband connectivity now reaches one sixth of the world's population.

Meanwhile, in the uk, new figures from Ofcom this week have revealed that the number of UK broadband connections is nearing the 17 million mark.

The regulator's latest Telecommunications Market data tables show that up to the end of Q3 last year, there were just over 16.9 million active residential and small business broadband lines in the UK.

The tables, which detail the broadband connections between 2006 and Q3 2008, show that during this period there were slight market share falls for industry leaders BT Retail and Virgin Media.

In the case of BT, this is largely due to the increase in broadband connections using local loop unbundling (LLU). These line connections are provided by the likes of TalkTalk and Sky who have installed their own equipment in the telephone exchange - meaning they can offer users discounted prices and so called 'free' broadband services.

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