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Cell Phones: Connecting the World

How important are cell phones for global communication?

December 31, 2002

How important are cell phones for global communication?

Back in the mid-1990s, a ringing cell phone in any given crowd was a novelty. Whoever got such a call was either really important — or in desperate need of attention. Now, cell phones have become part of our daily routine. In fact, they are often considered a nuisance. Our new Globalist Factsheet explores how cell phones are conquering the world.

Who made the first call?

The first cell phone call was made by its inventor Martin Cooper in Manhattan on April 3, 1973.


How well do the largest cell-phone service providers cooperate?

As of 2003, with 100 million customers, U.K.-based Vodafone Group PLC is the world’s largest mobile telephone company. It owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless — the largest cell phone company carrier in the United States.

(Washington Post)

How much do people pay for these services in the United States?

The average monthly cost for U.S. phone service is $35 for local phone services, $18 for long distance — and $45 for cell phones.

(Washington Post)

What price did people have to pay for the first models?

When the first cell phones were available for commercial service in 1983, they cost as much as $3,500 — or $7,000 in 2003.


How high is the cell phone use in Western countries?

As of March 2002, around 45 percent of Americans own a cell phone, compared to 75 percent of western Europeans.


Which company leads the world in producing cell phones?

As of 2003, Singapore-based Flextronics is the world’s single biggest manufacturer of cellular phones, accounting for 16 percent of global production.

(Far Eastern Economic Review)

How did global cell phone production develop?

The total number of mobile phone handsets sold to consumers worldwide increased 8 percent in 2001 to 412 million units.

(Strategy Analytics)

How popular are cell phones among young people in the United Kingdom?

As of early 2001, 48 percent of children aged seven to 16 in Great Britain owned cell phones.


How does Europe compare to Japan?

As of 2000, the 68 percent of Western Europe’s population who owned a mobile phone outstripped 47 percent of the Japanese who had one.

(Deutsche Bank Research)

How does Japan rank globally?

At 47 percent, Japan ranks tenth on the worldwide list of mobile telephones per 100 inhabitants.

(Deutsche Bank Research)

What is the most promising market for the cell phone industry?

As of 2003, with more than 200 million subscribers, China is already the world’s largest cellular phone market. By 2006, it is expected to surpass Japan as the second-largest market for laptop computers, after the United States.

(New York Times)

Why are people so optimistic about the Chinese market?

A decade ago, China had one fixed phoneline for every 100 people. Today, China has five times as many fixed lines as India. Moreover, 34 percent of Asia’s cell phone subscribers live in China — more than even Japan, which has only a 28 percent share of the total market.


In which city does almost everyone have a cell phone?

As of 2003, there are 6 million cell phones in Hong Kong — which has an official population of 6.7 million people.

(Far Eastern Economic Review)

Where do Philippine customers beat everybody else?

As of September 2000, cell phone subscribers in the Philippines sent 10 million text messages daily — more than the number in the whole of Europe.


How does India's market compare to that of the United States?

As of 1999, there was only one cell phone subscriber among every 1,000 people in India — compared with 310 among every 1,000 Americans.

(State Street Bank)

Finally, what happens to outdated models?

As of 2003, Americans generate about 65,000 tons of old mobile phones annually and will leave a stockpile of 500 million used handsets by 2005.