Big growth in global ICT sector

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Impressive growth in global Internet use, particularly in developing countries, is reported in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) “The World in 2011’ report, which was presented at the 40th anniversary ITU Telecom World event in Geneva this week.

The publication confirms that ICT growth continues apace, with close to six billion mobile cellular subscriptions forecast by the end of 2011, and around 2.3 billion people using the Internet.

Growth is fastest in the developing world, and amongst the young, with almost half the world’s online population now under 25 years old. That number should continue to increase steadily as Internet penetration continues to grow in schools.

The developing world’s share of the world’s total Internet users has grown from 44% five years ago, to 62% today. Global Internet penetration has grown by over 50% in three years – from 13% in 2008 to 20% in 2011.

The new ITU figures provide a quick snapshot of broadband deployment worldwide, revealing gaping disparities in high-speed access. While international Internet bandwidth has grown from 11,000 Gbps in 2006 to close to 80,000 Gbps in 2011, Europeans enjoy on average almost 90,000 bps of bandwidth per user compared to Internet users in Africa, who are limited to 2,000 bps per user.

According to the report, the world’s top broadband economies are all located in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. In the Republic of Korea, mobile broadband penetration now exceeds 90%, with nearly all fixed broadband connections providing speeds equal to or above 10 Mbps. In comparison, broadband users in countries such as Ghana, Mongolia, Oman and Venezuela are limited to broadband speeds below 2 Mbps.

Dreams and visions of how to best use technology to improve lives is a major theme of ITU Telecom World, culminating in a “Manifesto for Change’ detailing recommendations for action to help more of the world’s population get connected. The Manifesto, produced in collaboration with ITU Telecom’s Insight Partner Ernst & Young, will be created from all the discussions taking place around the event, including online contributions, echoing questions raised and views voiced by participants in Geneva and across the world.
To download a copy of The World in 2011, www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/index.html.

Over 250 top leaders from government, the private sector and the global technology community are attending the event which runs until 27 October. A vibrant opening ceremony sponsored by China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator with over 600 million subscribers, featured President Ali Bongo of Gabon; Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji; Igor Shchegolev, Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Russian Federation; Doris Leuthard, Head of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Saud Al-Thani, Chairman, Qatar Telecom; Jianzhou Wang, Chairman, China Mobile; and Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General, ITU.

Dr Toure noted how, for the first time in ITU Telecom’s 40-year history, tens of thousands of people from around the world were joining the event using the full range of connected technologies. The event, he said, will be a genuine “conversation reflecting the concerns, dreams and visions, not just of people physically present at the event’ but of those all around the world following the event remotely from their homes, offices, schools, and through a network of 100,000 telecentres around the world.

The official ceremony was followed by a more informal event celebration in the OpenSpace arena, where participants heard from additional dignitaries including Mark Muller, Conseiller d’Etat, Geneva; Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA); and Mohamed Khalfan Al Qamzi, Chairman of the Board of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai has won the global bid to host ITU Telecom World 2012.

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