CIA's View Of Mobile, Internet Use: By The Numbers

Here's what the CIA sees as the use of mobile phones completely outpaces use of the Internet.
9 Hottest Phones At Mobile World Congress
9 Hottest Phones At Mobile World Congress
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The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency recently reported some interesting information on mobile phone and Internet usage: There's a huge gap between the number of mobile users and the number of Internet users worldwide. And the gulf that divides them will only continue to widen.

China owns the top spot on both lists, with 859 million mobile phone users and 389 million Internet users. You might notice a difference of about 500 million people between those two numbers. The difference highlights how pervasive mobile technology has become, especially in regions where the wired Internet isn't available.

India has the second-highest number of mobile phone users, with 752 million, but it ranks sixth in Internet use, with 61.34 million. Nearly 700 million people in India use mobile phones but don't use the wired Internet. Why not? They don't have access to computers--their mobile handsets are the only connection available.

[ Who are the top smartphone users? See Men Are From Mars, Women Love Smartphones. ]

The U.S. rates third in terms of mobile phone users, with 331 million; and second in overall Internet use, with 245 million. The U.S. has the closest gap between mobile phone users and wired Internet users, but the penetration rate of wireless users is at about 105%. That means some people have more than one device or connection. The number of households in the U.S. that are wireless-only has reached 31.6%. We consume 2.29 trillion voice minutes per year, 193.1 billion text messages per month, and 2.3 trillion text messages per year.

Russia places fourth in the wireless category, with 238 million mobile users; but it places tenth in overall Internet use, with just 40 million users.

Rounding out the top five mobile users is Indonesia, with 220 million mobile phone users. It doesn't place in the top 10 countries for Internet use.

The CIA also calls out some eye-popping stats with respect to growth--for example, Brazil’s mobile-cellular usage has more than tripled in the past 5 years. In Russia, the estimated number of mobile subscribers jumped from fewer than 1 million in 1998 to nearly 240 million by the end of 2010. And in Pakistan, mobile-cellular subscribership has skyrocketed from about 300,000 in 2000 to more than 110 million by the end of 2011--more than 90% of Pakistanis currently have cell phone coverage at home.

Around the world, the number of mobile phone users is higher than that of wired Internet users -- and it is likely to stay that way permanently. For many users, mobile devices provide the only Internet connection they'll ever know, and in developed countries such as the U.S., wireless connections have replaced and will continue to replace wired access.

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