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6 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, according to UN

There are now six billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, according to the UN telecoms agency ITU.

A report published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) (opens in new tab), a UN agency that monitors the telecoms industry worldwide, shows that there are almost as many mobile phone subscriptions in the world as there are people.

There are nearly seven billion people on Earth but the data accounts for SIM cards detected and monthly subscriptions rather than the number of handsets.

"We count Sim cards, not the number of devices or people, so if one person has two Sim cards in one device, it counts as two subscriptions; and we count monthly subscriptions as well," said Susan Teltscher, head of the agency's data division.

The report, called Measuring the Information Society 2012 (opens in new tab), looked at 155 countries, assessing their access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT). It found one billion subscriptions each in developing economies like India and China.

(opens in new tab)The Geneva-based agency also noted that almost two billion people - about one-third of the world's population - were Internet users by the end of 2011.

Figures show that in developed countries, 70 per cent of the population was online, compared with 24 per cent in developing regions.

According to the agency, there were also almost twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions globally as fixed broadband ones. However, despite this trend prices for mobile broadband were still very high in low-income countries.

"The surge in numbers of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries has brought the internet to a multitude of new users. But despite the downward trend, prices remain relatively high in many low-income countries", said Brahima Sanou, the director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau.

Image Credit: Flickr (gailjadehamilton (opens in new tab))