GENEVA Mobile subscriptions will rise to 4.6 billion by the end of this year, boosted by a continuing mobile phone boom in emerging economies, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said on Tuesday.
That represents about two mobile subscriptions for every three people in the world, although in developed economies many people have more than one subscription.
Mobile broadband subscriptions would top 600 million in 2009, with fixed broadband subscribers at 500 million, the United Nations telecoms body said.
ITU said its latest statistics highlighted major regional discrepancies, with mobile broadband penetration rates still low in many African countries and other developing nations.
There is one fixed broadband subscriber for every 1,000 inhabitants in Africa, compared with Europe where there are some 200 subscribers per 1,000 people.
The relative price for communications services, especially for broadband, is highest in Africa.
"Rapid high-speed internet growth in the developed world contrasts starkly with the state of play in the developing world," ITU said in a statement.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Dan Lalor)