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5G Mobile Network Coverage Reaches 40% of World Population: ITU

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General. Photo: ITU

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General. Photo: ITU

5G Mobile Network Coverage Reaches 40% of World Population: ITU

While 89 percent of people in high-income countries are covered by 5G networks, the service is nearly absent in low-income countries. 

Steady but uneven progress in global Internet connectivity highlights the disparities of the digital divide and is leaving people in low-income countries behind, according to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Facts and Figures 2023. 

Analysis on Internet data usage, featured for the first time in ITU’s annual connectivity report, shows that fixed-broadband services accounted for over 80 percent of global Internet traffic in 2022. 

The volume of Internet traffic across fixed-broadband networks, which remain common in office and home settings, far exceeds that of mobile-broadband networks. 

But the dominance of the fixed networks underscores the global connectivity disparity between high- and low-income countries, with only one fixed-broadband subscription per 100 people in low-income countries due to high prices and a lack of infrastructure. 

“The further and faster technology advances, the more urgent our mission to connect everyone becomes,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General. “Fulfilling the promise of universal and meaningful connectivity is one of the most important causes of our time in our effort to realize the sustainable future we want and need.” 

ITU, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, reported earlier this year that an estimated 2.6 billion people, or one-third of the global population, remain offline in 2023. 

ITU’s flagship Facts and Figures tracks global connectivity with estimates on key indicators, including those related to infrastructure, affordability, gender, and location. It now includes new indicators on global 5G network coverage and Internet traffic data. 

Facts and Figures 2023 – released on November 27 – shows that 5G mobile network coverage has expanded to reach almost 40 percent of the world population since commercial deployment began in 2019. 

As with Internet data traffic, the distribution is uneven. While 89 percent of people in high-income countries are covered by 5G networks, the service is nearly absent in low-income countries. 

For many low-income countries, 3G is often the only way to connect to the Internet. However, 3G is not sufficient to access the full benefits of digital technology, such as remote medical diagnostics and online learning. 

According to the ITU report, 4G service remains a pathway to meaningful connectivity, but only reaches 39 percent of the population in low-income countries. 

Courtesy: ITU

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