There is a very good reason why most observers believe mobile service providers will provide most of the Internet access for people living in rural areas of the developing world: rural area mobile coverage is no less than 79 percent in Africa, 87 percent in Asia and 81 percent in Oceania.
That high level of coverage of course pertains mostly to 2G and 3G coverage, but the general principle remains valid: it is the mobile networks which have the greatest coverage at prices most consumers can afford. Satellites have wide coverage, but generally cannot match mobile operator retail prices.
In 2014, fixed-broadband subscriptions reached a total of 711 million accounts globally, corresponding to a penetration rate of almost 10 percent, according to the International Telecommunications Union.
In developing countries, fixed-broadband penetration growth rates have dropped from 18 percent in 2011 to six percent in 2014, and less than one percent in lesser-developed countries.
Asia and the Pacific stands out as a region with low fixed-broadband penetration (7.7 per cent) and a sharp decline in the growth of fixed broadband since 2010.
In large part, that is because mobile broadband is a substitute. Mobile broadband registered continuous double-digit growth rates in 2014 and an estimated global penetration of 32 percent.
Mobile broadband is growing fastest in developing countries, where growth rates
in 2014 were twice as high as in developed countries (26 percent growth in developing countries, compared to 11.5 percent growth in developed markets).
All regions continue to show double-digit growth rates, but Africa stands out with a growth rate of over 40 percent, twice as high as the global average growth rate.
By the end of 2014, mobile broadband penetration in Africa had reached 20 percent, up from less than two percent in 2010.
Basic 2G population coverage stands at over 90 percent worldwide. According to ITU estimates, global 3G population coverage stood at around 50 percent in 2012.
Backhaul access remains an issue.
In Asia and the Pacific, 40 percent of the population live out of reach of an operational optical fiber backhaul network (the facilities are more than 50 km distant), and just over 10percent live within 0 km of an optical long haul fiber.