The global boom in mobile cellular communications has been truly astounding. At the end of 1998 there were more than 300 million subscribers around the world, up from just 11 million in 1990. By the end of this decade there will be more than half a billion mobile users. Mobile cellular already accounts for almost one-third of all telephone connections. It seems highly likely that the number of mobile cellular subscribers will surpass conventional fixed lines during the first decade of the next millennium. Both developed and developing countries are sharing in this revolution: in developed countries, users are flocking to mobile cellular as a complement to existing fixed-lines; in developing nations, mobile cellular is emerging as a substitute for shortages of fixed-lines.
The mobile cellular boom has revolutionized the concept of telephony in a number of ways. First and foremost, with mobile, users no longer call a place but a person. Small, portable handsets have liberated users from the cord that tied telephones to a geographic location, enabling users to be reached anytime, anywhere. Beyond this, compared with fixed telephones, mobile cellular typically offers a greater variety of options in terms of features and tariffs.
Mobile cellular was the first telecommunication market segment where private ownership and competition were introduced in many countries. Start-up mobile cellular companies are almost always backed by foreign, strategic investors. This combination of competitive markets, private ownership and foreign investment has created an appropriate environment for rapid growth. But the market has been driven, as much as anything, by rampant demand. When mobilephones were first introduced in the early 1980s, they were mainly confined to cars, constrained by weight and power requirements. But as mobilephones became lighter, cheaper and more attractive, they have left the car and entered the briefcase, the handbag and the pocket. A modern portable typically weighs a few hundred grams, is brightly coloured, has a small screen and more features than the average user might use in a lifetime. Mobilephones have as much in common with fashion accessories as plain old telephones. The success of mobile has been a triumph of technology married with marketing.
The fifth edition of the ITU's World Telecommunication Development Report, specially prepared for the Telecom'99 event taking place in Geneva in October 1999, examines mobile cellular communications. The growth of mobile cellular communications has been astounding. From around 11 million subscribers in 1990, there were over 300 million at the end of 1998. It is forecast that mobile cellular subscribers will surpass fixed telephone lines sometime the next decade. The report examines the implications of the mobile cellular revolution including technological aspects, regulatory options, relevance for developing countries and pricing.
Number of Subscribers
GEO Data Category:
Mobile phones, subscribers, per 1000 people, subregional level
No reference for download
Jaap Van Woerden
11, chemin des Anemones
+41 22 917 82 94
+41 22 917 80 29
11, Chemin des Anemones
+41 22 917 82 94
+41 22 917 80 29
GIS Data Info
Statistics Data Info
The data is only aggregated if at least 75 % of the observations are available (i.e. % of population or % of area or % of countries) on an annual basis.
The value "-9999" corresponds to "No Data".
Several values are calculated by extrapolations and interpolations; they are exclusively used for
the regional/subregional and global aggregations.
Calculated pre 1991-1992 relative country share
Former Yugoslavia SFR:
Data for China do not include Hong Kong.
Mobile phones refers to users of portable telephones subscribing to an automatic public mobile
telephone service using cellular technology that provides access to the public switched telephone
Copyright c 2002 (Aggregations) United Nations Environment Programme/DEWA/GRID-Geneva.
Data aggregation made by Andrea DeBono and Ola Nordbeck (UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Geneva).