UN agency the International Telecommuncation Union knows its onions when it comes to mobile statistics, so its latest report comes with plenty of credibility. It claims that by the end of this year, there will be 4.4 billion mobile broadband users globally, up from 4.2 billion at the end of 2017, and 3.2 billion at the end of 2015. Note, this is ‘subscriptions’ rather than ‘individual subscribers’ – according to the ITU’s figures, at the end of 2017 there were 3.58 billion internet users globally across fixed-line and mobile internet. These figures are all useful for anyone in the music-industry thinking about the accessible base for music-streaming services in the future, but the ITU also has some concerns about how mobile-broadband is growing. “Concerns continue to emerge about new and growing digital inequalities, between countries, sexes, ages and regions,” claims its report.
“According to McKinsey, African countries on average spend about 1.1% of GDP on investment in ‘going digital’ (including Internet infrastructure and networks), while developed countries spend 3.2% of GDP. This means that, not only have some countries and regions already accelerated ahead, but also the gaps in Internet availability between developed and developing countries may effectively grow larger every year.”