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Developing countries catch-up with mobile


Worldwide trend

The mobile subscriber base is constantly growing worldwide, and as shown by Portio Research Ltd.’s forecasts it will grow further in the coming years.

Bridging the gap

The growth, that is observed is a global trend, however, the subscriber base is not distributed uniformly. There is a large gap between developing and developed countries in this area. The good news is that developing countries are quickly catching up and bridging the gap in terms of technology. What may be surprising, people in developing countries often buy a mobile device, a handheld computer, rather than a desktop computer or a laptop. Below, we show the change in mobile-broadband subscriptions over years 2009-2013.

Market penetration

As much as total numbers look optimistic, the mobile penetration (shown in the next graph) takes us back to reality. The penetration rates (number of subscriptions per a hundred of inhabitants) show how large the gap actually is. While in developed countries approximately 70% of people have a mobile-broadband subscription, in developing countries this rate is a little below 20% (a level of penetration in developed countries in 2007).

The promising prognosis, reflected in the stats presented above, is that the growing penetration of mobile technology in developing countries opens new possibilities for learning.

* The developed/developing country classifications are based on the UN M49, see:


ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.