According to a recent survey by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), approximately 60 per cent of the world's population have mobile phone subscriptions. The ITU estimates, in its report Measuring the Information Society, that there were over four billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2008 — up from one billion in 2002. Almost two-thirds of mobile subscriptions globally were from the developing world, compared to 44 per cent in 2002.

By the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines, estimated at 1.3 billion. The report found the number of lines is decreasing in many developed countries, but increasingly slowly in developing countries. As a result, fixed line penetration has remained relatively static, at just under 20 per cent.

On the mobile broadband front, the study found that approximately 85 countries had deployed or commercialized IMT-2000/3G networks by the end of 2007. The developed world had a mobile broadband penetration of 14 per cent, compared to less than one per cent in the developing world. However, the ITU expects a rapid increase in the use of mobile broadband in the coming years, particularly in countries with limited fixed line infrastructures.

Of the 154 countries surveyed for the report, United Arab Emirates topped the charts with a mobile cellular penetration rate of 176.5 per cent, followed by Macao, Italy, Qatar and Hong Kong. For mobile broadband, Japan placed first, with 56.8 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Luxembourg rounded out the top five.