Despite the exploding use of mobile data connections, fixed network connections also are growing – globally.
According to International Telecommunications Union data, there were 589 million fixed network broadband subscriptions in use by the end of 2011 – up 11.5 percent from 2010. Point Topic estimates a slightly higher number of 597 million fixed broadband lines, with total annual additions for 2011 the strongest since 2006, at 65.5 million new additions over 2011.
The milestone of 600 million fixed broadband subscribers was surpassed in the first quarter of 2012.
On the other hand, it isn’t hard to argue that mobile is the preferred way most people around the globe want to use voice services.
Globally, there were 87 mobile phone subscriptions for every 100 people in 2011. There were in 2011 about 18 fixed line phone subscriptions for every 100 people.
What’s happening now is that mobile is becoming the way a majority of people access the Internet. A large part of the reason is that smartphones increasingly represent the way people go online.
For the first time in history, the installed base of smartphones will exceed that of personal computers at the end of 2012.
For the most part, uptake of fixed network broadband services hinges on availability, as most of the potential network connections exist in “developed” markets. But income and service pricing are also issues limiting uptake.
In 2011, the price of fixed broadband access cost less than 2 percent of average monthly income in 49 economies in the world, mostly in the industrialized world.
Meanwhile, broadband access cost more than half of average monthly income in 30 economies. In 19 of the lesser developed countries, the price of broadband exceeds average monthly income, according to the ITU.
But that isn’t the only trend. By 2011, there were 48 developing economies where entry-level broadband access cost less than 5 percent of average monthly income – up from just 35 countries in 2010, according to an International Telecommunications Union broadband report.
Between 2008 and 2009, 125 countries saw reductions in access prices, some by as much as 80 percent, the ITU says. From 2010 to 2011, prices for fixed broadband dropped by 52 percent on average and mobile broadband prices by 22 percent.
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Edited by Braden Becker