ITU: Broadband Uptake Grows as Price Drops

U.S. Tops in Americas with High-Speed Broadband
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Communications technology demand and uptake are growing globally, driven in part by a steady decline in price.

That is according to a new International Telecommunications Union report that predicts there will soon be as many mobile cellular subscriptions as people on the planet. It predicts that number of these subs will surpass 7 billion by early 2014.

Asia now claims more than half of all those subscriptions. By the end of 2013, ITU predicts, overall global penetration will have topped 96%. The report looks at regions, though there are some individual country stats as well.

The U.S. fixed wireless and wired broadband service is tops in the Americas in high-speed broadband subscriptions (which ITU defines as at least 10 Mbps downstream) at about 58%, but that puts it in 14th place globally, according to ITU.

Household access growth is strongest in Africa, while developing countries' growth rates is at their lowest levels ever. But that simply highlights the problem with measuring growth rates. Africa is highest because its penetration is lowest at just 16%, so any increase is magnified, while a number of the regions, including the Americas, are at over 100% -- some folks have more than one subscription.

ITU estimates that by year's end, 2.7 billion people will be using the Internet, or more than a third (39%) of the world's population, and 41% of households.

The figures were released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.