2.2.2 Mobile communications growth

Mobile subscriptions continue to exhibit tremendous growth, especially in developing countries. Global mobile penetration is now 87 per cent in the developed world and 79 per cent in the developing world. 45 Meanwhile, mobile broadband subscriptions grew at an annual rate of 45 per cent between 2007 and 2011, resulting in twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband subscriptions. 46 In the developing world, mobile broadband is often the only broadband access option available, given the generally low penetration of fixed broadband infrastructure. Even so, mobile broadband penetration in the developing world (8 per cent) lags significantly behind the developed world (51 per cent). 47

There is significant variation in mobile penetration across and within regions. For example, within Africa, 25 countries were responsible for 91 per cent of mobile subscriptions. 48 And although Africa represents the fastest growing and second-largest mobile phone market in the world, it has the lowest mobile broadband penetration of any region; the mobile broadband penetration rate is below 5 per cent, while all other regions exceed 10 per cent. 49 The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the largest mobile market in the world, with 3 billion subscribers as of 2011, and an expectation that a further 1.5 billion subscribers will be added by 2015. 50

By comparison, Latin America is now the third-largest mobile market, with more than 630 million mobile connections as of the end of 2011. 51 The market is beginning to mature, and its 13 per cent annual growth between 2007 and 2011 is expected to slow to 5 per cent by 2015.

However, the fact that mobile broadband penetration rates average only 51 per cent even in the developed world means that there is still significant room for growth. In 2011, mobile broadband saw 40 per cent annual subscription growth. 52 As mobile broadband penetration increases, especially in the developing world, there will be increased potential for delivery of educational services over mobile devices.

45 ITU, “The World in 2011: ICT Facts and Figures,” available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/material/ICTFactsFigures2011.pdf .

46 Ibid.

47 ITU, “Key statistical highlights: ITU data release June 2012,” (June 2012), available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf .

48 GSMA, “African Mobile Observatory 2011,” (2011) at 1, available at http://www.gsma.com/publicpolicy/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/africamobileobservatory2011-1.pdf .

49 ITU, “Key statistical highlights: ITU data release June 2012,” (June 2012), available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf .

50 GSMA, “Asia Pacific Mobile Observatory 2011,” (2011) at 3, available at http://www.gsma.com/publicpolicy/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/amofullwebfinal.pdf .

51 GSMA, “Latin American Mobile Observatory 2011,” (2011) at 5, available at http://www.gsma.com/publicpolicy/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/latammoeng.pdf .

52 ITU, “Key statistical highlights: ITU data release June 2012,” (June 2012), available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf .

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