Phones Outnumber People

The number of telephones in the world now exceeds the number of people to use them. According to The Mobile World, there are now 6.92bn connections worldwide, of which 1.32bn are fixed and 5.60bn mobile. This compares with the US Census Bureau’s global population estimate of 6.915bn.

“This milestone has been reached thanks to the continuing, spectacular growth of the mobile industry,” says John Tysoe, principal analyst at The Mobile World. Since the turn of the century, the world’s mobile phone base has grown more than tenfold, to the point where mobile connections outnumber fixed lines by four to one. 

“While this figure does not imply 100 per cent universal phone access, that goal is coming closer. The industry continues to defy predictions that the rate of progress must slow: 2010 was the industry’s first trillion-dollar year, and produced more new customers than any prior year* with 200m net additions in the final quarter alone. That sets a new record and equates to slightly more than 25 new connections every second, throughout the whole three months”

Tysoe adds that the mobile phone has now become the “most owned” object in the world,  having overtaken the toothbrush some while back, but cautions that this popularity brings its own challenges.

“Network operators are having to invest at an accelerating rate to keep pace with the exponential growth in traffic, and yet are hampered in their efforts by regulatory interference,and the absence of any coherent approach to spectrum allocation,” says Tysoe.