BBC News

Mobiles 'to outnumber people next year', says UN agency

image captionThere will be more mobile phones than people by the end of 2014 thinks the ITU

There will be more mobile subscriptions than people in the world by the end of next year, according to a UN agency report.

The International Telecoms Union predicts that subscriptions will pass seven billion early in 2014.

There are currently 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions and 7.1 billion people.

The ITU World in 2013 report also found that more than a third of the global population are online.

The Commonwealth of Independent States, the alliance of countries formerly in the Soviet Union, has the highest mobile penetration with 1.7 subscriptions for every person.

Africa has the least, with 63 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

"Every day we are moving closer to having almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions as people on earth," said Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

"The mobile revolution is 'm-powering' people in developing countries by delivering ICT applications in education, health, government, banking, environment and business."

'Two-thirds locked out'

But in some countries, such as India, mobile growth is slowing.

The report also found that 2.7 billion people, almost 40% of the world's population, are online.

Europe has the highest penetration (75%), followed by the Americas (61%). Asia has 32% of its population online, Africa 16%.

ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure said the progress was "extraordinary" but that more needed to be done.

"Two-thirds of the world's population, some 4.5 billion people, is still offline," he said.

"This means that two-thirds of the world's people are still locked out of the world's biggest market."

More on this story

  • UK is a nation of data-hungry net shoppers, says survey