Mobile broadband is the fastest growing ICT segment in the world, according to a report released by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency.
The new ITU report, titled Measuring the Information Society 2013, revealed strong global demand for ICT products and services and sharp growth in 3G uptake.
The 2013 State of the Broadband report, released earlier this year, said that the rate of mobile broadband uptake means it will be the fastest growing technology in history.
The new report said by the end of this year there will 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions – almost as many people in the world – and around 2.7 billion people with Internet connections.
It also said 3G mobile broadband connections are increasing at around 40 per cent per annum, with a global penetration rate of nearly 30 per cent.
Nearly 50 per cent of the global population now has access to a 3G network.
Australia came sixth in the ITU’s ICT development index, which compares 157 countries in terms of ICT access, use and skills. South Korea came in first for the third year in a row, followed by Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK.
Australia also ranked in ITU’s most dynamic countries index, which assesses countries according to their improvement in the development index.
Other countries in the dynamic countries index includes Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, which all ranked above Australia in ICT improvements.
“This year’s IDI figures show much reason for optimism, with governments clearly prioritizing ICTs as a major lever of socio-economic growth, resulting in better access and lower prices,” Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU secretary-general, said in a statement.
“Our most pressing challenge is to identify ways to enable those countries which are still struggling to connect their populations to deploy the networks and services that will help lift them out of poverty.”
The ITU report found fixed global broadband prices fell 82 per cent between 2008 and 2012, with the biggest drop recorded in developing countries.