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ITU: Mobile Broadband is Moving Up

The latest figures from the International Telecommunications Union buttress the Obama Administration focus on wireless broadband deployment, with the number of worldwide mobile broadband subscriptions approaching two billion.

According to a summary of the fifth edition of the Measuring the Information Society report, released today (Oct. 7), mobile broadband accessed by tablets and smart phones is the fastest-growing segment of the global ICT market. The report found declining prices for both mobile and fixed broadband service and "unprecedented adoption of 3G" — 3G is the report's benchmark for qualifying as high-speed mobile broadband access.

ITU predicts that by the end of 2013, almost 40% of the world's population will be online.

The report found there continues to be a economic divide, with broadband uptake, fixed and mobile continuing to be limited in developing countries. Some 4.4 billion people worldwide are not yet online, the report says, concluding that more action must be taken to improve accessibility and affordability.

The ITU's information and communications technology (ICT) development index shows that the U.S. has dropped from 16 to 17 in the country ranking of various measures of development, with Korea and Sweden continuing in the top two spots and Iceland moving up from fourth to third. ITU points out that two-thirds of the top countries are in Europe, where it says "shared regulatory framework and a clear set of priority areas, goals and targets have helped countries evolve into advanced information economies."

But the U.S. trails only China and Kuwait in affordability of fixed broadband as of 2012, with the price only .4% of gross national income per capita.

The report includes data from Digital TV Research, Eurostat, OECD, IMF, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank.