Mobile phone use tops 5 billion: study

The number of mobile phones in use worldwide has exceeded 5 billion for the first time due to high demand in India and China, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson has shown in a new study published on Thursday.

Mobile phone use tops 5 billion: study
Photo: Maciej Dakowicz

The world’s 5.0-billionth mobile phone subscription was recorded on July 8th, the company said in a statement, with the market having increased almost seven-fold in 10 years.

“In the year 2000, about 720 million people had mobile subscriptions, less than the amount of users in China alone today,” Ericsson said.

The number of mobile subscriptions increases by two million a day, “largely thanks to emerging markets like India and China,” it added.

An Ericsson spokeswoman told AFP the study’s term “subscriptions” included both billed contracts with providers and the ‘pay-as-you-go’ formula, popular in emerging markets.

Since one person can have more than one mobile phone subscription, the 5.0 billion mark does not necessarily mean five billion people own a mobile phone.

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is around 6.8 billion people.

Ericsson added mobile broadband subscriptions are growing at a similar pace and are expected to reach 3.4 billion by 2015, up from 360 million last year.

The mobile giant predicts 80 percent of all people accessing the internet will soon do so via a mobile phone.

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Sweden’s mobile phone-free day is a relic, but still calls for consideration

Saturday saw Sweden’s annual Mobile-Free Day, an initiative which began in 2002 in an attempt to give people peace and quiet and a break from calls and texts.

Sweden’s mobile phone-free day is a relic, but still calls for consideration
Photo: tatsianama/Depositphotos

But the day has fallen from public awareness in more recent years.

“(Using mobiles) is so integrated into our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean it always will be in future,” said Jonas Engman, ethnologist at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm.

Sweden introduced a mobile phone-free day in 2002, encouraging the public to turn off their cells in an effort to protect the general audio environment.

As such, the roots of the day go back to the beginning of the mobile era, in which everybody having a device in their pockets was still a relatively new phenomenon.

Nine out of ten people in Sweden currently own a mobile telephone, according to a 2018 study. Of those, between 88 and 96 percent use their phones daily.

That falls to 74 percent for the 56-65 years age group, and 62 percent for people aged 66-75.

“There’s a discussion in society as to whether it’s beneficial to keep looking at and checking one’s mobile phone all the time. I think it’s part of everyday life for people in urban areas, and that is not actually a problem” Engman said.

Living without a mobile is something most people should be able to do, the researcher said, even if they might not be prepared to take on the challenge without warning — even just for a single day.

“I think there are many people, not just children and young people, but many generations who find it hard to put their phones down. So it’s good that we (still) have this day to highlight this,” he said.

READ ALSO: Five things to remember when getting a mobile phone in Sweden