Mobile phones are the most common gateway to internet use, with the percentage of ownership serving as an indicator of Internet availability and access, the ITU said as it launched its annual report on global connectivity.
But it cautioned that mobile phone ownership remains higher than Internet use – especially in lower-income countries, with broadband usually more expensive than cellular-only services.
Unsurprisingly, ownership was highest in wealthy countries, where 95 percent of people currently own a mobile phone, and lowest in low-income countries, where only 49 percent do, the ITU said.
The UN’s telecoms agency says roughly a third of the planet has still never been online. But the online population has been increasing and an estimated 5.3 billion people, or 66 percent of people worldwide, are now using the Internet.