Soon a mobile phone for every person on Earth?

Or at least, a mobile phone accessible by everyone on Earth?

According to the ITU, there are now 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions, up from 1 billion in 2002.

Whether you use it to record yourself being raped (a novel idea coming from my own country), against terrorism, for terrorism, for peacebuilding, to bear witness, for social and political activism, to get news via SMS, to block news via SMS (yes, another idea from Sri Lanka), to find out where you are, for online dispute resolution (ODR), for citizen journalism, to narrow the digital divide, as a tool for recording information, in humanitarian aid, e-government and e-governance, or to browse the web, mobile phones are all around us.

Save for a few who refuse to use them, within our lifetime it will be the case that almost everyone on Earth will be uniquely addressable via a number.

That’s an amazing thing. As the Guardian notes,

The figures demonstrate that many people in the developing world are bypassing the older technology altogether. In the developed world, many people use more than one mobile device, with subscriptions exceeding population by 11% in Europe. On the other hand, a single mobile phone may have several users in poorer countries, where handsets are sometimes shared or rented out by their owners.”There has been a clear shift to mobile cellular telephony,” the ITU said. “In contrast to the growth in the mobile sector, fixed telephony has experienced nearly no growth in the last decade.” The agency painted a positive picture of a world being opened up and given fresh opportunities by improved communications: “The spread of mobile cellular services and technologies has made great strides towards connecting the previously unconnected.”

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