Fixed Broadband Prices Have Dropped 82% Over 5 Years

Over the past five years, fixed broadband prices as a share of gross national income per capita have dropped by 82 percent, the ITU says.

In 2012, fixed broadband services remained expensive, though, accounting for 30.1 percent of annual monthly incomes in developing countries, compared to just 1.7 percent in developed countries), By the end of 2013, there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions, according to the  International Telecommunications Union’s State of Broadband Report.

In 2012, the number of developing countries where broadband cost less than five percent of annual income remained the same as in 2011, at a total of 48.

In 22 developing countries, prices ranged up to two percent of average income, while in 26 countries prices were between two percent and five percent.

The point is that people can afford broadband when it costs less than five percent of their annual income. That implies that fixed broadband access is unaffordable for 3.9 billion people, and mobile broadband is unaffordable for over 2.6 billion people around the world.

The number of developing countries where broadband cost between five percent and 10 percent
of average income has increased from 15 in 2011 to 24 in 2012, the ITU says. In 18 developing countries annual cost is between five percent and eight percent of annual income, while in six countries broadband cost is between eight and 10 percent of annual income.

In 49 economies in the world, primarily developed economies, broadband access in 2010 cost less than two percent  of average income.

This compares to 32 economies in the world in 2010 where broadband access cost more than half of average national income.

In 2010, there were 35 developing economies (out of 118) where broadband access cost less than five percent of average monthly income, up from 21 two years earlier.
Current ITU development goals include a target of entry-level broadband services, available at less than five percent of average monthly income, in developing countries by 2015.

By the end of 2013, the number of broadband subscriptions in the developing parts of the world will exceed the number of broadband subscriptions in the developed regions of the planet for the first time, the ITU also notes.

Licensed spectrum has underpinned the growth of the mobile industry and remains essential, unlicensed spectrum (Wi-Fi, primarily) has become an important part of the way people get access to the Internet.

Other forms of spectrum sharing also are starting to get attention.

Mobile broadband also is the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the ITU.

By the end of 2013, the ITU predicts there will be 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions in use, equivalent to one third of the total number of mobile cellular subscriptions in service globally. In 2011, mobile broadband was used by 20 percent of mobile customers.

Morgan Stanley estimates that the number of unique smart phone users is around 1.5
billion in 2013, with smart phone subscriptions estimated to exceed four billion by 2018. Mobile broadband is projected to reach seven billion subscriptions in 2018.

Mobile broadband subscriptions, which allow users access to the Internet from their smart phones, tablets and WiFi-connected laptops, are growing at a rate of 30 percent  per year, the ITU says.

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