4,6bn use cellphones

GENEVA - The number of cellphone subscriptions worldwide has reached 4,6billion and is expected to increase to 5billion this year, the UN telecommunications agency said yesterday.

GENEVA - The number of cellphone subscriptions worldwide has reached 4,6billion and is expected to increase to 5billion this year, the UN telecommunications agency said yesterday.

Cellphone providers in rich countries offer advanced services and handsets, while people in developing countries increasingly use the cellphone for health services and banking, the International Telecommunication Union said.

"Even in an economic crisis, we have seen no drop in demand for communications services," the agency's Hamadoun Toure said.

"The simplest, low-end cellphone can do so much to improve healthcare in the developing world," Toure said, citing examples of patients receiving reminder messages on their cellphone ahead of a medical appointment or text messages instructing them how to take complex medication.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide is expected to exceed 1billion this year. Web access by people on the move, including by laptops and smart mobile devices, will probably surpass web access from desktop computers within the next five years, the agency said. - Sapa-AP

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