Source: International Telecommunication Union.
The development of portable (cellular) phones and global telecommunication (internet) networks has been remarkable, especially since the 1990s when the trend became exponential. As of 2021, there were about 8.6 billion cellular phone subscribers and possibly 4.9 billion internet users. Exact figures are difficult to assess because of the decentralized and distributed structure of the Internet; its extent is not fully known. The recent diffusion of telecommunications has thus been massive and universal, with substantial economic, social, and cultural changes. It is linked with increased access to information (financial, cultural, educational, political, etc.), new forms of social interactions, as well as with increased economic opportunities derived from a closely linked global economy.
Since 2005, the rapid diffusion of smartphones has expanded opportunities with the convergence of telecommunication and portable computing. This has led to a sharp growth of mobile broadband subscribers, who have exceeded fixed broadband subscriptions. Still, like all diffusion processes, the number of cell phone subscribers is indicative of the beginning of market saturation.