Once upon a time, people had to communicate via land lines. People were sometimes legitimately unreachable and payphones lined the streets. And some of didn’t have phones at all. But those days are long gone. And new statistics from the United Nations reveal the surprising reach of cell phones even in remote parts of the world.
The United Nations is one of the many world agencies that likes to keep a close eye on what the world is doing…statistically at least. And one of the things that they count is technology usage. The data that they gather through polls, statistics and buying trends let them know just how advanced we are as a planet. And as it turns out, we’re not doing so badly.
Last Thursday, the UN Telecom Agency reported that over 6 billion people on planet earth are signed up for wireless phone subscriptions. And as there are only 6.9 billion people on planet earth, that means that nearly all of us have phones and phone subscriptions.
But before you go deep into the Peruvian Amazon looking for a wireless connection, you should know that the data is a little skewed. For example, China alone accounts for a full billion of wireless subscribers (many of them newly subscribed this year). And India — another population dense area — is scheduled to hit one billion subscribers by the end of the year.
Other less populated places with more limited resources are less likely to enjoy the same subscription densities as the rest of the world.
But no matter how you slice it, the UN’s reported numbers are pretty impressive. As of this moment, 86 percent of the people on planet earth have a phone and a wireless plan. That’s a lot of people.
And the numbers are growing everyday. As China — the world’s most population-dense area — continues to modernize, its middle class is growing by leaps and bounds. Earlier this year, China bypassed the United States as the largest phone market in the world and their growth has continued at a steady rate throughout the year.
And phone tech isn’t the only tech that’s growing. As economies like China’s grow and develop, more and more people are being introduced to the world-wide web.
According to the same UN report, roughly 30 percent of people on planet earth enjoy internet access. That number is dwarfed by the phone statistics, but it still amounts to an impressive 2.3 billion people.
Unfortunately, 70 percent of those 2.3 billion people live in wealthy, urbanized centers while only 24% of them live in poor developing nations. But as cheap, unlocked phones with internet access continue to spread around the globe, those numbers should change.
And as the phone and tech industries spread more evenly across the globe, we’re sure to see some interesting changes in both industries. I personally predict cheaper, faster technology, a broader global scope for all and a Firefly-esque hybrid of Chinese and English as our future mother tongue.